ISSUE 99  |  Crowd Control

A Napa Valley Winery with a Sense of Whimsy

November 20, 2013 8:00 PM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

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Living in the Napa Valley, as my family and I do, means hosting a steady stream of visitors who come for the local wineries. Whenever I notice our guests’ enthusiasm waning from all the heady terminology, I know where to send them: Swanson Vineyards’ Sip Shoppe, a happy reminder that wine should be fun.

I’m not sure whether it’s the wooden bird cages hanging from the trees or the carnival-like candy-striped interior of the Sip Shoppe, but the overall atmosphere is one of unexpected whimsy and delight. The brainchild of Alexis Swanson Traina, whose family owns Swanson Vineyards, the Sip Shoppe was created with help from retail genius Andy Spade, among others, as a casual counterpart to Swanson’s elegant tasting salon next door. An inveterate entertainer herself, Alexis pulls together both high and low elements in her decor, a skill she attributes to her mother, Elizabeth, who is responsible for the “fairy dust,” the small inspired touches scattered throughout the Sip Shoppe.

Photographs by Mimi Giboin for Remodelista.

Above: Swanson Vineyards sits in the heart of the Napa Valley.

Above: Weathered blue shutters and a wire plant holder in the gardens.

Above: German beer garden tables are paired with red-painted bentwood chairs.

Above: Elizabeth Swanson built a towering wooden structure in the garden to ward off evil spirits.

Above: Vintage fruit picking baskets are filled with wine.  The interior is furnished with a mix of rustic European finds. Salvaged window architecture serve as frames; one presents Alexis’s favorite pairing: Swanson Vineyards’ Crepuscule Late Harvest Semillon and kettle corn.  

Above: In a classic high-low move, Elizabeth Swanson displays flowers in old coffee cans. Want to add a note of Sip Shoppe cheekiness to your table? Check out Alexis’s Modern House Wines (now on sale in-store for $12.99 at Target) with witty names like “Expensive” and “Here’s to You.” And for her tips on entertaining, see her blog, Alexis’ Napa for the Curious & Eccentric.

Above: Candy-striped tenting fabric covers the interior of the Sip Shoppe, and a collection of watering cans serve as unexpected decor.

Looking for some design-worthy places to visit in the Napa and Sonoma valleys? Check out our Winery Tasting Room Roundup.