Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

10 Years Fresh

Celebrating the one decade anniversary of Oxbow Public Market, the business that helped put Napa on California's culinary map.



With small boutiques offering food, drink, treats, books, and more, Oxbow Public Market is at the core of Napa.

Photos by Bob McClenahan

The downtown Napa scene changed dramatically 10 years ago with the opening of Oxbow Public Market. Gone are the days when Wine Country tourists drove past Napa, heading up valley toward the iconic wineries of Yountville and St. Helena. “Twenty-five years ago, nobody knew there was a ‘Napa’ in Napa Valley,” says Craig Smith, executive director of the Downtown Napa Association. Smith recalls pre-Oxbow Napa—specifically the east side of the river—as a sleepy, blue-collar town with no real scene to speak of. Indeed, the founders of Oxbow took a chance opening a venue dedicated to the craft of cuisine in the predominantly industrial town. But with perseverance, Oxbow Public Market proved to be a major stepping stone in transforming downtown Napa into the California culinary capital it is today.

Though wildly popular now, Oxbow had growing pains during the early years, recalls Steve Carlin, the market’s founder and developer. Most of it came down to timing: Oxbow’s opening in 2007 was shortly followed by the closure of the town’s biggest tourist attraction, Copia; Napa Flood Project construction blocked the bridges connecting the east and west sides of the Napa River; and, of course, the nation was on the verge of a major economic crisis. But Carlin held strong to his vision of creating a communal space where local artisans could showcase and sell their work—be it food, wine, or art—directly to consumers.

What Oxbow provides, Carlin explains, is a steady, safe space that encourages retailers to market their brands in a real and personal way. The effects have been notable: Many of the once-boutique businesses that have taken up residency in Oxbow are now globally recognized names, including Gott’s Roadside, The Model Bakery, and Kara’s Cupcakes. But big or small, vendors at the market still maintain a grassroots mentality, and guests benefit by making direct contact with the people behind the product.

It’s that original farm-to-fork outlook that continues to serve the local Napa community and attract tourists from all over the world. To celebrate its success, Oxbow Public Market will host events throughout 2018, including a monthly local’s night, culinary demonstrations hosted by the market’s restaurateurs—such as Eiko’s chef Tateki Noma breaking down an entire salmon—and live entertainment, as well as specials. oxbowpublicmarket.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

An Epicure’s Dream

The highly anticipated Oxbow Public Market gets ready to open in downtown Napa.

Expert Oxbow

Ten things to check out at Wine Country’s favorite market.

Wine Country Cozy

Ten fabulous ways to heat things up when the temperature drops.

Wine Country Itineraries: Getting to know the towns of Napa and Sonoma counties

You’re in Wine Country, and your performance doesn’t start for a while. You don’t feel like visiting a winery, and you don’t have time for dinner. All of a sudden you realize that you don’t really know Wine Country all that well. Here’s a selection of things to see and do in Petaluma and Yountville.

Around Sonoma County with Bruce Cohn

Vintner, entertainment guru, philanthropist, and very fun guy Bruce Cohn talks about what to see and do in Sonoma County.

Williams-Sonoma Opens New Store Original Location

Williams-Sonoma returns to its roots, with a new store at its original location.

Market Place

Sebastopol stakes its claim, with a sophisticated shopping and dining arcade.

Wanderlust

Globe-trotter Linda Hamilton opens a gypsy chic pop-up boutique off the Sonoma Square.

New Shops in Wine Country

Retailers to check out while you’re in town.

Handmade Handbags

A local craftswoman shows her love for modern design with her new handbags.

Shop

The New Napa

Edit ModuleShow Tags