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Jessup Cellars to team with Mad Fritz, offer beer in Yountville tasting room

Jessup, which proudly proclaims its status as Yountville’s first wine tasting room, hopes to soon be serving up brews from Mad Fritz, a high-end beer company with a cult-like following throughout the Napa Valley.

Jessup Cellars is looking to partner with Mad Fritz, a Napa Valley brewing company with a cult-like following, to bring beer tasting to its Yountville tasting room.

Yountville’s Jessup Cellars is looking to add a new lineup to its tasting menu and it’s not wine.

Jessup, which proudly proclaims its status as Yountville’s first wine tasting room, hopes to soon be serving up brews from Mad Fritz, a high-end beer company with a cult-like following throughout the Napa Valley.

“As we are trying to embrace more inclusivity at Jessup Cellars, we wanted to expand how we bring visitors into our space. Mad Fritz and its elevated vision of beer give us a new avenue to do that,” Jessup Cellars president Antony McClung told the Sun.

The plan must first receive approval from town planners and council members in the form of a use permit for the beer tasting operation but it doesn’t appear that will be an issue.

“It is a straightforward application,” Assistant Planner Diane Levine told the Sun in an email. “The use does not fit the specific definition of a wine-tasting room or bar. However, Planning sees no issue with the council determining the use as compatible and appropriate.”

The Jessup Cellars tasting room is currently segmented into three distinct areas. The first is the front entrance bar, a casual but chic setting where visitors are introduced to Jessup’s award-winning wines, crafted by winemaker Bernardo Munoz under the direction of executive winemaker Rob Lloyd.

“Jessup was the first tasting room in Yountville. It was much more of a wine bar in the early days,” said McClung. “It moved into more of the traditional sit-down tasting, get the education [format]. I wanted to slide back into a fun experience.”

Moving from the wine bar through a set of open French doors, guests enter a larger space with tables and chairs reserved for more formal tastings. The space was once an art gallery and Jessup has maintained that vibe throughout.

Jessup recently announced that the space will be transformed into a salon designated as “The Art of Living,” featuring a curated series of events and collaborations that bring to life the winery’s heritage and connection to wine country through the lens of an artist. The first show featuring the artworks of Jermaine Danté, a Napa Valley resident, opened May 15 and runs through Sept. 15.

“This will be a rotating four-month artist series that has some association with what we are doing and what Yountville represents,” said McClung

A third area at Jessup Cellars once housed the Yountville town jail.

“It’s a pseudo-historic building and because of the historic significance, there is not a lot physically we can do with the building,” said McClung. “It didn’t fit into my vision for a wine bar or gallery space, and it’s detached.”

McClung came up with the idea of using the space for a taproom that could fit 20-25 people. The outside space could then be used as a wine and beer garden, a concept, McClung said, that the town of Yountville was receptive to.

The next step was to test the concept with a pop-up from his good friend, Nile Zacherle.

“This is the only person I could think about doing this with,” McClung said.

Zacherle and his wife Whitney Fisher, both winemakers, founded Mad Fritz Brewing Co. in St. Helena in 2014. The name Mad Fritz comes from the fusion of their two children’s names, Madeleine (Maddie) and Frederick (Fritz).

The Mad Fritz team operates using high-quality, natural ingredients with a keen focus on attention to detail. They carefully source water from local reservoirs, artesian springs, and aquifers in Napa, Mendocino, and Sonoma counties – never adding brewing salts. They exclusively use craft-malted single-variety barleys, each with a known origin or sourcing location, embracing the expected variability. Their 25 years of experience in winemaking and 12-plus years in brewing has given them a deep expertise in fermentation, and aging in new and used barrels. Their combined knowledge enables them to cultivate, malt, brew and age 100% naturally-carbonated beers with unique personalities and a distinct sense of place.

While a roughly 27-oz bottle of beer that retails for $35 may create sticker shock for some, Zacherle points out the artisanal nature of the Mad Fritz brand as well as the heart and soul be-hind it.

“People ask if something like water really makes a difference with beer. It is similar to fingerprints which are all unique and different,” said Zacherle. “What we are producing is really a farm-to-table beer.”

Mad Fritz currently has over 500 members in its membership club, and “50% of beers are sold before we make them,” Zacherle said.

In addition to the membership club, Mad Fritz brews are also available at a who’s who of Napa Valley restaurants including, Auberge, Angele, Farmstead, Bottega, French Laundry, Press and Brasswood.

While getting into these locations took time, Zacherle’s primary focus was always on the product.

“If you were to launch any product and say this is my target audience, we’d all love to be in those locations,” he said. “One of the things that I did was focus on making the best product. What happened for us [then] is a lot of the restaurants came to us.”

Next up is Jessup Cellars, the latest in the valley to collaborate with Mad Fritz. The plan is to have a Mad Fritz employee work full-time in the space, answering questions and serving and selling beer. The Mad Fritz space will be open seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m.

McClung believes that Mad Fritz beer will fundamentally reach a different type of consumer than Jessup and will serve as an alternative for those who either don’t drink wine or just want a break from wine tasting.

“We are starting with a pop-up mentality. If all goes well, which we hope it will, we will certainly continue further down the road,” said McClung. “I have my fingers crossed that the community and visitors to Yountville will embrace the incredible beers from Mad Fritz.”

 If you go:

 Jessup Cellars, 6740 Washington St, Yountville

Hours: noon to 7, seven days a week. www.jessupcellars.com

For more information about Mad Fritz, visit: https://www.madfritz.com/

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