June is Pride Month across the country, which means it’s a great time to commemorate LGBTQ culture here in the Napa Valley as well.
Some of these celebrations will be obvious—rainbow flag banners will be on display throughout downtown Napa, and a rainbow flag will fly in front of Napa’s City Hall. Others will require a bit more planning to experience; the city is sponsoring a series of planned events which benefit the local nonprofit LGBTQ Connection.
Festivities will begin Saturday, June 1 with a "Rock Around the Clock" sock hop-themed youth pride dance for ages 13-20 at the Napa Library from 7 to 10 p.m. On Tuesday, June 4, Queen of the Valley Community Outreach in Napa will provide free Pride breakfast and potluck for LGBTQ seniors from 10 a.m. to noon. The weekend of June 8 and 9 will feature the return of "Drag Queens of The Valley" at the JaM Cellars Ballroom at the Napa Valley Opera House. And on Friday, June 14, LGBTQ Connection's youth leadership team will host "Drop the Mic," an open mic event for ages 13-20 at their Napa LGBTQ center.
Later in the month, on Thursday, June 20, Tannery Bend Beerworks will host "Cheers, Beers & Queers" featuring the brewery’s top craft beers all day, followed by “Queer & Questioning Trivia” night from 6 to 9 p.m. (Owners expect these events to attract quite a crowd.) The 2019 Gay Pride month celebrations will conclude on Saturday, June 29 at Kennedy Park in Napa, with an all-ages, family-friendly "Napa Pride Community Cookout" from noon to 3 p.m.
To be clear: Just about every business in the Napa Valley welcomes members of the LGBTQ community year-round. Still, a handful of wineries, inns, restaurants, and shops are especially appreciative of these visitors because they are either owned by members of the LGBTQ community or employ them.
The first that comes to mind, without question, is Gentleman Farmer Wines in Yountville. This high-end, allocation-only winery is run by Jeff Durham and Joe Wolosz, who are openly gay and have been pillars of the local LGBTQ community for years. The winery produces fewer than 600 cases each year, but tastings, barrel tastings and picnic pairings all are available by appointment.
Another stalwart of the local LBGTQ community: The Inn on First in downtown Napa.
Chef and Co-Owner Jim Gunther and Innkeeper Jamie Cherry have been life partners for 25 years and opened the inn in 2007. Today Gunther is renowned for his breakfasts and Cherry for his wine tours—all of which unfold in the inn’s private 2018 Lincoln Navigator.
“Napa is very gay-friendly,” Cherry told Passport magazine last year. “There’s no gay bar so it’s more about tagging along to what’s trendy and comfortable.”
Another popular place for members of the LGBTQ community: The Q Restaurant and Bar in the Bel Aire Plaza shopping center in north Napa. This watering hole and eatery is owned by Gene Tartaglia, a beloved local restaurateur who owned the gay-friendly hotspot Mecca in the Castro for years before moving north. (Sadly, Mecca closed in 2009.)
Today the Q is known for Memphis-style barbecue and it sports a Happy Hour with half-price cocktails, beer, and wine on weekdays from 4-6 p.m. Locals also love the Sunday special: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and collard greens.
Still, other Napa Valley businesses openly celebrate our LGBTQ friends. Rancho Gordo, which specializes in heirloom beans and is in downtown Napa, is a big supporter. The Chanric Inn, a bed-and-breakfast on Highway 29/128 in Calistoga, was founded by a gay couple and still registers on the LGBTQ hot-list. Gran Electrica in downtown Napa will serve a specialty cocktail in celebration of Gay Pride month and donate a portion of cocktails sold to LGBTQ Connection.
Several wineries stand out as particularly welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Some of these include Bouchaine Vineyards, Brown Estate, St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery, Eleven Eleven Wines, Luna Vineyards, Judd’s Hill, and Ashes & Diamonds Winery, to name a few. Then, of course, there’s Honig Vineyard and Winery in Rutherford, which will donate all June tasting fees to The Trevor Project.
For a full list of local events commemorating Pride Month, peruse the Napa Valley Register calendar. Whatever you do to celebrate, remember to wear your rainbow colors with pride.