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Be Bubbly collects accolades – and loyalty from local fans

When the Champagne Bureau recently announced its list of the Top 10 Champagne Bars in the U.S., one name stood out. Nine on the list were in big cities, from Sacramento to New York.

Be Bubbly in Napa was named one of Top 10 Champagne Bars in the U.S. by the Champagne Bureau. Photo by Marissa Carlisle.

When the Champagne Bureau recently announced its list of the Top 10 Champagne Bars in the U.S., one name stood out. Nine on the list were in big cities, from Sacramento to New York. But the tenth was Be Bubbly in downtown Napa. The Bureau noted that “This Napa Valley Champagne and sparkling wine lounge is known for its inventive Champagne flights, comedy nights and live music.”

It’s not just the promoters of Champagne who like Be Bubbly. It is also a local favorite and was also named Best Downtown Tasting Room and Best Napa Valley Wine Bar of 2023 by readers of Napa Valley Life.

That is even more impressive since owner Erin Riley opened just three years ago—and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She signed the construction contract for the only sparkling wine bar in Napa on March 13, 2020, just a week before restrictions hit. It has been a wild ride.

Be Bubbly opened in August 2020 with a parklet for outdoor seating, which now is permanent. That and large windows that open the whole place to the outside, plus private booths, helped temper the sting of the pandemic but it was challenging even for an enthusiastic person who could be called bubbly herself.

Though, ironically, COVID may actually have helped Riley’s business to get off the ground. With many people out of work or working remotely, locals had more time to hang out—and many chose Be Bubbly as the place to do so. Since opening, Riley has also tweaked her formula. Initially offering caviar, she pivoted to grilled cheese and tater tots, also ideal with sparkling wine but more popular with locals, and she is expanding her kitchen’s capability to add more treats.

Perhaps most noticeably, the inveterate marketer started offering more events and entertainment, from $25 tastings and classes in sabering or Champagne to dinners and music, comedy and even drag shows.

Some offerings, like Trivia Nights, were popular at first but slowed as people went back to work and had less time; others, like the monthly drag shows, took off. Even so, she said this year has been more challenging than last.

With signs of slowing around us, Be Bubbly is closing on Tuesdays once again, but Riley vows to keep the bar open on Monday when many locals in hospitality are off work.

Although she has bootstrapped Be Bubbly so far, she has also initiated a crowdsourcing campaign to realize her dream of offering a full complement of drink and food options, including Champagne cocktails, and improving her lounge. Investors receive 120% of their contribution to spend at Be Bubbly, too. See details at https://numarket.co/fund/be-bubbly.

What to drink at Be Bubbly?

Be Bubbly offers 50 labels of Champagne, nine of them by the glass, thanks to an innovative device called Le Verre de Vin that protects opened bottles with carbon dioxide.

Erin Riley pours wine for guests at Be Bubbly. Photo by Marissa Carlisle.

Although Riley picked the site on Second Street to attract locals rather than focus on tourists, out-of-towners in the know find their way to Be Bubbly and she says many like to try local bubbles like Schramsberg. For locals, the bar offers less expensive sparkling wines like a $15 Austrian rosé, still wines, pet-nats and less common selections.

Riley would love to get people in early, after work and before dinner, and she offers half price during happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m., but customers seem to like to come later and she has accepted that.

Be Bubbly, 1407 Second St., Napa, 707-637-4532, bebubblynapa.com

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