The idea for Compline, the well-received restaurant and wine bar Ryan Stetins and Matt Stamp, Master Sommelier (MS) opened in September, part of First Street Napa near Clay Street and across from Archer hotel, began over wine and dinner nearly four years ago.

Both men are sommeliers with strong food backgrounds, and every aspect of the concept was important to them. The right chef was critical.

“When we interviewed Yancy Windsperger, the opening chef at La Taberna,” said Stetins, “he said it was important that he craft a full menu that featured not only delicious food, but also food that is whole and healthful. That sealed the deal for Matt and me.”

Windsperger does not believe in creating taste by using a lot of butter and cream.

“Chef believes that taste should come from the ingredients, relying on pristine quality to provide flavor,” said Stetins.

“All our dishes need to pair well across a range of wine styles,” added Stamp.

Windsperger’s kitchen is stocked with locally sourced ingredients, from purveyors like Kicking Bull Farms, Don Watson and Petaluma Farms. He buys whole animals in order to keep the menu evolving and as sustainable as possible.

As important as the food and wine are, Stamp and Stetins insist that Compline remain an unpretentious place to “break bread with friends, with wine throughout the meal.”

Accessibility is part of that mix.

“We’re tired of spending $200 every time we go out to eat,” said Stetins.

Dinner and wine for two at Compline will be closer to $100. “That way, people are comfortable coming here a couple of times a month instead of a couple of times a year.” Lunches feature multiple selections under $15.

The well thought-out wine program includes 20 wines by the glass and 300 on the menu, based on seasonality. The retail shop offers another 100 wines. One-third of the wines are local. Stetins has created a vibrant cheese program to accompany wines, introducing two or three new cheeses and wines every week.

Calling Compline a wine bar is accurate, but only in the right context.

“We want people to see Compline as a wine bar in the European sense – where there is a full, nourishing menu and not just small bites,” said Stetins.

Stamp, crediting June Rodil MS (a fellow restaurant/wine shop owner in Austin, TX) with this description, said that Compline is “a restaurant with the heartbeat of a wine bar.”

The two owners’ recognize that the success of Compline is dependent on the staff, and are committed to paying a decent wage and to sharing tips with both servers and kitchen staff. A reasonable, mandatory service charge is included to make that possible.

“Taking care of people is not just an employee thing,” said Stetins, “it’s a human thing.”

Stamp and Stetins agree that they have accomplished their goal of being a local’s place. Stetins sums it up, “If we weren’t owners, we’d want to be at the bar.”

Compline is open for lunch and dinner daily. The wine bar is open to midnight daily. Visit complinewine.com or call 492-8150.

Happy new year to you all.

See you downtown!

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association. Reach him at 257-0322 or craig@donapa.com.