Everyone likes a good comeback story, and this one has ice cream. Napa Valley’s Erosion Tap House: Winery & Brewery + Creamery, a cheeky restaurant, ice cream shop, wine and beer tasting room, and bottle shop, almost wasn’t any of those things. But that is getting ahead of the story.
Rewind to the early 2000’s when Patrick Rue was home brewing while studying to be an attorney. The hobby, one his wife Rachel encouraged him to take on to stave off the stresses of his graduate program, soon became a passion. So much so, in 2007 he opened a craft beer brand called The Bruery (say it out loud. Cute, right?). Patrick also fell in love with wine, eventually trying his hand at those as well. Always one to set his own path, he infused his wines with spices and boldly blended types and styles often unused in California.
All those years working in beer and winemaking came to a head in 2020 when he – by then among only a few Master Cicerones in the state – and Rachel opened Erosion Tap House in St. Helena, naming it after the geological process that occurred over time to make the land in Napa so special today as well as their goal for the space (to erode people’s preconceived notions of wine, beer and the area in general). Except then the pandemic hit, and it hit Erosion hard, causing it to shut down for several months just as it was beginning to build momentum.
Against all odds, Erosion Tap House persevered. Upon triumphantly re-opening, the Rues began doubling down on the guest experience, offering traditional and outside-of-the-box ice creams and yogurts made by Patrick himself and local artisans. They also have a full menu of shareable bites and larger entrees, with a focus on using waffles as vessels.
Beyond the waffles, do not miss each of the of empanadas on the menu. The veggie option is stuffed to brim with roasted onions, oregano, white cheddar chees and mozzarella while the carnivorous option manages to combine beef with onions, olives, raisins and boiled egg and make it taste like heaven. Pro tip: when offered a side of chimichurri or cashew-pumpkin seed mole, opt for both. Each sauce takes the crispy, savory handhelds to another level.
Outside of the food menu, wine tastings are offered at any time, with the guest’s choice of red, white or a combination of wines delivered in scientific beakers rather than glasses. Patrick works with nearly a dozen local growers to source the grapes locally, and the varietals run the gamut. The only thing they have in common: wild names that do not take themselves too seriously. There is a Petit Syrah called “Wine Stain,” for example, and a red blend in a can called “Not Afraid of Clowns.” There is even a white blend called “Raining Puppies” because of its combination of Picpoul Blanc and Muscat Canelli grapes, which most winemakers would think would be as likely as being blended together as puppies falling from the sky. Beer, of course, is also available by the glass or in a tasting (yes, also in the beakers!). There is a separate tap room for beer lovers with 24 different taps, though it may be enjoyed anywhere in the building.
The final element to this adult amusement park for the taste buds is the bottle shop, which is adjacent to the main dining area and ice cream counters. There, guests can shop for hours for what feels like a never-ending list of beers, gourmet goods and even temporary tattoos.
For more information on Erosion Tap House, visit www.erosion.buzz.