POSTED ON January 25, 2008 | IN Activities | BY Joe Becerra

The Oxbow Market opened last month and we decided to visit the Market on our last trip to Napa. The Oxbow Market is much like the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market located in the Ferry Building on San Francisco’s waterfront. At the Oxbow Market, a select group of food and wine artisans have retail shops and cafés inside a brand new 40,000 square foot building. Like the Ferry Plaza, all the businesses have been handpicked. The idea is to bring the best, the unique, and the artisan from the surrounding area. In the case of the Ferry Building, this concept has been a huge success. We visit there often and it is always teeming with tourists and locals, it is a happening spot. It is one of San Francisco’s main attractions. The Oxbow Market hopes to have that same success for the city of Napa.

Oxbow Market in Napa

We visited on Wednesday, January 23, on a very cold and drizzly day. The Oxbow Market has been open only a month and not all the vendors have settled in. To our surprise, there was hardly anyone in the place. The employees outnumbered the shoppers by a wide margin. The busiest spot was Michael Mondavi’s tasting room called Folio. There, a group of business folks was getting a lesson in wine tasting from none other than Michael Mondavi. Outside of that, nothing much was going on. We’d heard that daily from 8 am to 2 pm there are supposed to be a dozen local farmers hawking their goods at farm stands. We saw the farm stands but no farmers.

Oxbow Market in Napa

Still to come are some major tenants. Among those set to open soon are Taylor’s Refresher, the Oxbow Wine Merchant & Wine Bar, and the famed Model Bakery of St. Helena. These three businesses should be a big draw to the Oxbow Market.

For now, it is too early to tell how successful the Oxbow Market will be. It is right next-door to Copia, and Copia has not exactly has been a huge success for the city of Napa. You know what they say about a business and its location. We think that is the big question mark here. This area is too distant from the heart of Napa Valley’s main tourist spots, which are the wineries and boutique shops between Yountville and Calistoga on Highway 29. There is nothing quaint or charming about this area of Napa. The Ferry Plaza Market in S.F. has the beauty of the historic Ferry Building, the daily onslaught of commuters from the ferryboats, and the awesome beauty of the water and skyline of San Francisco. This area of Napa may change over time but for now, it is missing that intangible atmosphere that delights tourists and who quickly spread the word about their experience. Maybe it was the cold, dark day but we think the Oxbow Market has a long way to go. We will be sure to visit again.

The Oxbow Public Market is located in the city of Napa at 610 First St. Just follow the signs to Copia and you will find the Oxbow Market.