City Winery plans to bow out of Napa

Blue Note Club wants to open a venue at the Napa Valley Opera House in early 2016. City Winery chose to close its Napa location in late 2015 after opening at the opera house in April 2014.

CYNTHIA SWEENEY, BUSINESS JOURNAL STAFF REPORTER

After opening in downtown Napa nearly a year and a half ago, City Winery is in negotiations with Napa Valley Opera House to pull out of its 10-year lease.

“We don’t want to leave,” City Winery owner Michael Dorf said in an email. “We love Napa and the beauty of the opera, but financially, we have lost a lot of money and simply need to figure out a solution. We have no other plans for Northern California right now.”

City Winery has three other locations, one in Chicago, one in Nashville and the original location in New York. The chain is also opening two other dinner-and-a-show venues next year, one in Atlanta in January, and Boston in October 2016. They are also in discussions for locations in Toronto, Washington, D.C., and London for 2017, Dorf said.

In downtown Napa, City Winery has been leasing the building from the opera house since December 2013 and opened for its first show in early April last year. It shares space with the theater organization. Between the two of them a concert, show or event is offered nearly 365 days a year, often with more than one event or activity in a day.

The opera house puts on 75 shows a year and caters to local audiences with performances by the Children’s Choir and Lucky Penny theater company.

City Winery’s goal was to host 300 shows a year, with talent like Los Lobos, Gordon Lightfoot, Al Stewart, and Todd Rundgren as well as emerging local talent. The venue also hosts special events, operates a tasting room and an on-site brewery.

The opera house was built circa 1880 and has received a few facelifts over the years, including a $2.5 million upgrade as City Winery was going in. In 2002, the Margrit Biever Mondavi Theater upstairs was converted back to the original cabaret-style venue, offering dinner and a show. The theater seats 300.