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New Napa eatery takes barbecue ‘to the next level’

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As the last Halloween jack-o’-lanterns are tossed on the compost pile, people who got ghoulish gourdes at the Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch are in on a little secret.

While browsing pumpkins last month, some visitors discovered a new deli right next door. The Shed Napa Valley offers a smorgasbord of “authentic, pit-smoked meats,” according to owner Bill Wilcoxson.

“I’ve always wanted to do barbecue,” said Wilcoxson, who, along with his family of fourth-generation Napans, is the longtime owner of the pumpkin patch, a local Halloween tradition.

Some of last month’s visitors might have missed The Shed since the deli has no signage yet, an intentional omission by Wilcoxson.

“We had a soft opening Sept. 4,” Wilcoxson said. “We didn’t want to be overwhelmed.”

The Shed is appropriately named. The neon “open” sign in the front window is the only clue that the new building patch isn’t storage for farm equipment or hay bales. But once inside, visitors are greeted by a large, almost cavernous space complete with coffee bar, and a deli counter with seating.

The menu of specialty sandwiches includes smoked brisket, pulled pork, tri-tip and chicken, along with salads and freshly baked pastry and a wide selection of beverages, including beer, wine, coffee and Napa Valley teas. Smoked meats used in the sandwiches are also offered for sale by the pound, along with ribs.

According to Wilcoxson, The Shed is about “taking barbecue to the next level.” To get to that level, Wilcoxson said, he took a pit-master barbecue class in Houston.

Wilcoxson’s family is part of the business. His son Billy, 27, and daughter Justine, 25, both help run the eatery. Bill Wilcoxson’s mother, Louise Wilcoxson, bakes pies, strudel, bread and turnovers.

In addition to pastry and coffee, The Shed offers a traditional breakfast menu and upcoming winter dishes will include cornbread, baked beans and soup. Retail items like birdhouses, candy, dishes and seasonal decorations are also for sale, some made by local artisans.

Because the pumpkin patch and the deli are in an agricultural area, under the provisions of Measure J, Napa County’s agricultural preserve ordinance, voters had to approve the pumpkin patch in 1996 and the deli in 2008. Measure J required ballot approval for those land uses.

Having been in the produce business for 30 years, Wilcoxson said, his plan is to eventually become “a small grocery with high-end barbecue.”

“We want it to be super local,” Wilcoxson said. He described the business as “heavily Carneros” district and expects his clientele to be mainly vineyard and winery workers.

With the seasonal change from the Wilcoxson’s pumpkin patch to Christmas tree lot, The Shed Napa Valley won’t stay a secret much longer.

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