Come find us at Wine & Spirits’ Drink + Eat 2023 tasting in Los Angeles

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon was reviewed recently in Wine & Spirits Magazine:

93 points, Best Buy: You can feel the dappled sunlight in this wine as the flavors shift from warm, sunny forest berries to cool forest-floor tannins. Those beautiful tannins coat the fruit in a drape of dark riches—espresso-roast coffee, redwood tea, smoke and madrone. Stu Smith has been farming the steep slopes of Spring Mountain without irrigation since 1971 (it’s not named Spring Mountain for nothing). His vines rise from 1,300 to 2,000 feet in elevation, rooted in a complex geology that seems to provide all the nuance in the lasting flavor. This is pretty smart cabernet, especially at the price—a 2019 that should age well.

Because of this review (endorsed by Wine & Spirits’ panel of sommeliers), we were invited to participate in Wine & Spirits Magazine’s WSLA Drink + Eat 2023.

The event takes place on June 14 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at The Los Angeles Union Station Grand Ticketing Concourse (800 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012).

This is a one-of-a-kind tasting event, now in its second year. Guests will have the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines chosen as favorites on the lists of top restaurants around the country and scored highly by Wine & Spirits editors, while pairing them with featured dishes from some of Los Angeles’ most acclaimed chefs. WSLA sets itself apart from other tasting events by focusing on delicious food and wine enjoyed together.

The event will benefit Los Angeles Waterkeeper, whose mission is to fight for the health of the region’s waterways and for sustainable, equitable, and climate-friendly water supplies.

As a friend of Smith-Madrone you can take advantage of a customized 20%-off discount code for the event: it’s SMITHMADRONE. Please use it when you buy your ticket here:

Come find Stu and say hi!

What does Decanter say?

Our current releases as reviewed by Decanter:

2018 Chardonnay

February 11, 2023

A glorious example of Napa Chardonnay from the dry-farmed vines atop Spring Mountain. Ripe pear and hints of lemon peel underline vanilla bean and nutmeg aromas. The palate astounds. Richness is balanced with verve and energy led on by a glorious acidity. The sheer complexity of flavours is beguiling. Rich lemon meringue, bright nectarine flesh, peach skin, a savoury, wet stone minerality and a boisterous finish that sings with brilliant acidity. This wine has everything.

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

June 12, 2022

Brothers Stu and Charles Smith craft some of the most structured, classic expressions of the Spring Mountain AVA, and the 2019 is no exception. Subtle dark berry fruit, wild mountains herbs and a pretty capsicum nose. Full-bodied, the palate has ample acidity and freshness, revealing green tobacco, blackcurrant, earth and crushed stone minerality.

2018 Riesling

March 5, 2023

Classic Riesling aromatics of petrol, tropical fruit and petrichor. Stu Smith is one of the founding fathers of the variety in California’s Napa Valley, choosing east-facing slopes for his Riesling vines. The wine offers ample ripeness, with tropical fruits, zesty lime, fleshy ripe peach, and some phenolic notes on the palate.

Join Stu & “The King of Riesling” Paul Grieco on Instagram Live on May 11 at 5:00 pm (EDT)

Join Stu Smith and Paul Grieco
for a spirited conversation about Riesling and terroir

Stu’s chat with Paul Grieco on May 11 is now on Youtube:

We are always eager to share the magic of Riesling. To that end, join us for an Instagram Live conversation where Stu will welcome Paul Grieco of Terroir in New York City.

You can listen in on our Instagram or on Paul’s on Thursday, May 11 at 5:00 p.m. (EDT) and tap our Profile to watch the conversation unfold live, while Stu and Paul talk about all things Riesling.

About Paul Grieco and Terroir

Paul Grieco is often called “The King of Riesling.” Paul has become known as perhaps the first punk sommelier, ditching conventional uniforms in favor of items like seersucker suits and cargo shorts. He is known for his irreverent wit and sense of humor. The vibe at Terroir is lively and unique; the wine list is displayed in a three-ring binder and includes diverse graphics, pop-culture references and snippets of essays with a bearing on the wines.  His love of Riesling is clear in Terroir’s manifesto.

He is the founder/owner of Terroir, at 24 Harrison Street in New York. Terroir focuses on Riesling in events such as the upcoming Summer of Riesling on June 21 and The Summer of Riesling Cruise on July 18. There can be as many as 26 Rieslings available at any time. The menu at Terroir is deliciously diverse, from Duck Liver Mousse, Pigs in a Blanket, Wiener Schnitzel, a Smash Burger to Wild Ramp Gnocchi and more.

Born and raised in Canada, he worked in his family’s restaurant and got intrigued with the wine world when he spent a month in Italy at the age of 20. He came to New York in 1991 and began working in restaurants, including Remi, Bouley, Gotham Bar & Grill and finally Gramercy Tavern, where he ran the beverage program. In 2002 he left to open Hearth Restaurant and then Terroir Wine Bar in 2008, down the street from Hearth. The original Terroir closed in 2015 and Grieco opened Terroir | Tribeca in 2010. The space was a cheese production facility back when Washington Market thrived along the Hudson River. The interiors, designed by Richard Lewis, repurposed the original, rough-hewn wood and burnished, time-worn metal fabrications to stand tribute to Tribeca’s history as one of America’s first post-industrial neighborhoods. “The drive of the food and beverage program is to give voice to place…all of our wines / beers / foodstuffs must resonate with their origins and be produced in a manner true to their history and culture. Most importantly, everything must simply taste yummy,” Paul explains.

Smith-Madrone & Riesling

When Stu planted vines on the steeply sloped mountain-elevation at Smith-Madrone, he chose Riesling, one of the world’s four finest varietals. The vineyards are perched on slopes as steep as 32% at an elevation of 1,900 feet above the floor of the Napa Valley, at the top of the Spring Mountain District appellation.

Among many other accolades, Smith-Madrone’s Riesling was named one of the 20 best Rieslings in the world and the only one referenced in North America by British wine writer Stuart Pigott in his 2014 book, The Riesling Story: Best White Wine On Earth.

Smith-Madrone’s first vintage of Riesling, the 1977, won Best Riesling in the Wine Olympics, an international tasting organized by the food and wine magazine Gault Millau in Paris in 1979. This was the first judging of wines open to wines from around the world conducted by judges from around the world. This recognition launched Smith-Madrone as a pre-eminent producer of Riesling.

In 1983, we were the first American Riesling producer to use only the name Riesling on its labels. No other winery did this for the next 15 years. Stu had an extended battle with the then-BATF to change the label from Johannisberg Riesling to Riesling. He explains, “While White Riesling is legally correct, it is none-the-less both wrong and redundant – when was the last time you had a red Riesling?” 

Stu and Charlie believe in the ageability of Riesling. The winery regularly re-releases Rieslings. Currently the website offers a vertical of the 2018, 2019 and 2021 vintages, along with recipes chosen to pair deliciously with the wines.

For Riesling in another format, we offer a magnum of 2016 Riesling.

The current release is the 2018.

Please tune in on May 11 at 5 p.m. (EDT).

Here are some questions and topics Paul and Stu may address:

What was the first riesling you ever tasted?

Why do you love the varietal so much?

Why is Riesling so misunderstood? What’s the first thing you say about Riesling, if given the chance, when pouring one for a customer?

Stu: You fought the BATF to change labeling of Riesling from “Dry”/”Grey”/”White” to ‘just’ Riesling. Talk about that.

Paul: Did you face consumer/trade push-back as you’ve promoted riesling over the years?

Paul: You grew up in Canada and then came to New York City and worked at a number of ‘marquee’ restaurants before opening Terroir Wine Bar in 2008. What in your Canadian childhood oriented you toward a love of Riesling?

Stu: You grew up surfing and lifeguarding in Santa Monica. You went to UC Davis and then bought a property on a mountain, planted grapes and now have been growing and making Riesling since 1971. Same question: what in your southern California childhood oriented you toward a love of Riesling.

Controversial! Let’s talk about “petrol” as often mentioned as an element of Riesling.

Do you agree with this term/usage/please explain.

Stu: Why did you choose to plant Riesling at your vineyard when you began?

Paul: Why did you decide to focus on Riesling for many of your events and wine list, etc., at Terroir?

Stu: You and your winemaker brother believe in the ageability of Riesling and often offer your customers library Rieslings with considerable bottle age, such as a 6-bottle Riesling vertical recently. Why?

Paul: do you believe that rieslings age (well)?

What’s your favorite food or dish with Riesling (i.e. a dry style such as Smith-Madrone)?

What’s a food-Riesling combination you would absolutely NOT recommend?!

Paul: Tell us about the upcoming Summer of Riesling (June 21) and Summer of Riesling Cruise (July 18).

Stu: Tell us about the 50th anniversary Smith-Madrone celebrated in 2021.

Rain + Dry Farming = Great Wine

Cover crop between the vines

April 2023


With Earth Day just around the corner and our very generous rainy season ending, here is a snippet of how we deal with the issue of rain water.

Specifically, with our vineyard we want the rainwater to be absorbed into the ground and thus help replenish our ground water supply and prevent erosion. To do this, in the late 1970’s we embraced no-till farming, which means instead of disking our cover crop and vine prunings into the soil, we mow the grass and prunings that are between the vine rows. Much like a homeowner mowing their lawn, but instead of watering it we let the grass mature and dry out.

Here’s the really cool aspect of non-till farming; the mowed grass clippings and the shredded canes create a thatched like bedding that becomes like a mulch. Now when it rains those raindrops fall onto the thatch which then allows it to slowly and gently reach the earth and be absorbed into the soil. The thatch also holds in the moisture and gives the seeds a jump-start on germination.

Not just any seed will do when it comes to planting a vineyard permanent cover crop. We need a seed that will quickly germinate with fall’s first good rain, continue to grow as the day’s get shorter, darker and colder. We also want the seeds to put out a mat-like system of very fine root-hairs to hold the soil and produce a shoot/leaf that will survive an early hard freeze. And our last demand for these plants is for them to mature their seeds by early spring so that we can continue the cycle when we mow this year’s cover crop.

Celebrate Earth Month

Celebrate Earth Month with us by adding to your dinner table or cellar.

We’re very proud of our wines, but this time let’s let several wine writers describe their impressions.

’18 Riesling

Isaac Baker at Terroirist recently tasted the 2018 Riesling:

Smith-Madrone continues to deliver with their Riesling. Like guitarists who cannot stop writing amazing riffs record after record, the Smith brothers continue to turn out stellar Riesling after Riesling. The palate sports lip-smacking acidity and a peachy-keen appeal with honeydew melon and lime. There are so many chalky, mineral, crushed rock, and mountain stream vibes to parse through here, but the wine maintains an effortless feel. Absolutely delicious right now, and so expressive.

Buy: $36.00 (750 ml)

Vince Simmon at WineReviewOnline recently tasted the 2018 Chardonnay:

Smith-Madrone delivers a stunning Chardonnay with deep, rich flavors, bright acidity, and balanced oak use. It sings with notes of baked nutmeg-spiced pears, praline, caramelized pineapple, and ripe red apple accents. One of the beautiful aspects of this wine is that it’s ready to drink now.

Buy: $45.00 (750 ml)

’18 Chardonnay

’19 Cabernet Sauvignon

Bottle Photo Cabernet Sauvignon

Vince Simmon at WineReviewOnline recently tasted the 2018 Chardonnay:

Smith-Madrone delivers a stunning Chardonnay with deep, rich flavors, bright acidity, and balanced oak use. It sings with notes of baked nutmeg-spiced pears, praline, caramelized pineapple, and ripe red apple accents. One of the beautiful aspects of this wine is that it’s ready to drink now.

Buy: $65.00 (750 ml)

Please take a look at our other wines you can purchase, from a horizontal to a vertical to several library releases.
2019 Cook’s Flat Reserve
2016 Cook’s Flat Reserve 1.5L
2016 Riesling 1.5L
and Savvy Sippers and Tasty Trio collections

We wish you a wonderful spring time,

Stu and Charlie

Photo Credits: Stu Smith

“Stunning” and more at WineReviewOnline

Vince Simmon reviewed our current releases on March 21 at WineReviewOnline:


2018 Chardonnay: 95 points: Smith-Madrone delivers a stunning Chardonnay with deep, rich flavors, bright acidity, and balanced oak use.  Located in Napa’s North-West Spring Mountain District, it enjoys a cooler climate, for Napa, that helps their wines to develop really rich flavors while retaining much of their natural acidity.  Smith-Madrone wines are elegant expressions, focused on elevating the best fruit into wines focused on balance, acidity, complexity, and notes distinctive of their source.  This Chardonnay, for instance, sings with notes of baked nutmeg-spiced pears, praline, caramelized pineapple, and ripe red apple accents.  One of the beautiful aspects of this wine is that it’s ready to drink now and is beautiful out of the bottle right after opening.

2018 Riesling: 93 points: Stu Smith planted Riesling at the Smith-Madrone winery in 1972 because it was one of the four most important wine grapes in the world.  He stands by that statement more than 50 years later.  This Riesling shows minerality, tree fruit, and a touch of classic petroleum.  The vines benefit from dry farming, cooler site selection, and old well-draining volcanic soils.  The struggle they undergo each year adds to the complexity of the fruit. At $36, you can have your Napa Riesling today and put a few in your cellar where this wine will surely grow in complexity.  This is a wine that cellar dwellers shouldn’t overlook.

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon: 94 points: Every now and then you find a wine that fills the room with a beautiful bouquet of aromas immediately after being poured.  Maybe it’s the scenery or maybe the time of day but Smith-Madrone’s Cabernet did just that for me, with red and black cherry, hard cheese rind, marionberry, and subtle leather notes. The body is all business with rich, complex blackberry, black cherry, boysenberry, black currant, cedar, and tobacco notes. Much of the complexity of this wine comes from the vineyard where Stu Smith has put in countless hours. No detail goes unconsidered from his duty as a sustainable farmer, row direction and spacing impacts on sunlight for each grape, to his own trellising system that manages canopy sunlight. His vineyard management is both scientific and ephemerally artful. This Cabernet Sauvignon can be aged further but I can also see why many Napa wine lovers would want to enjoy its raw power just the way it is.

Decanter talks about Riesling

Clive Pursehouse at Decanter took a look at Rieslings around the world.

He tasted our 2018:

Classic Riesling aromatics of petrol, tropical fruit and petrichor. Stu Smith is one of the founding fathers of the variety in California’s Napa Valley, choosing east-facing slopes for his Riesling vines. The wine offers ample ripeness, with tropical fruits, zesty lime, fleshy ripe peach, and some phenolic notes on the palate.


International Riesling Day: American style

On International Riesling Day, Decanter’s US editor shares some of the best Rieslings from the United States. Riesling’s homeland is, of course, Germany, where it all started. Likely a descendant of wild grape vines growing in the Rheingau region, Riesling was first noted in 1435 and recorded as ‘Riesslingen’ in a record of a sale of grape vines made on 13 March of that year. As a result, the date has been designated as the variety’s unofficial birthday and decreed International Riesling Day.

Riesling’s fortunes rose and fell throughout the centuries. It had its moments; in the 18th century, based on a decree made in the Mosel Valley, all grape vines were removed and replaced with Riesling. In the 19th century, its prominence rose to equal that of Bordeaux and Burgundy.


California Riesling in the Napa Valley and beyond

…… Smith-Madrone is seen as one of the variety’s pioneers in Napa’s Cabernet country. ‘There are very few producers of Riesling today in the Napa AVA because so many producers didn’t, and don’t know, how to make it,’ says Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone. ‘They don’t understand that our steep volcanic soils and warmer climate produce a slightly different grape from northern Europe and that to get the best out of the varietal, it cannot be made as it is made there,’ he adds.

Hello vinNEBRASKA!

2023 will be the 33rd year that Stu has been the auctioneer for one of the Midwest’s most distinguished charity wine auctions: vinNEBRASKA.

The event takes place on March 31 and April 1. The Grand Wine Tasting, Dinner and Silent and Live Auctions on April 1 is based at the Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District.

To buy tickets:

Unfortunately live/online bidding is not available. If you’d like to contribute:

In 1989, the vinNEBRASKA Foundation was founded to make the Omaha community a better place through shared appreciation for fine wines and the great state of Nebraska. Today, what was once a small group with a common goal has blossomed into a grand celebration of premier wines, internationally recognized winemakers, generous philanthropy, and scholarship opportunities. To date, vinNEBRASKA has raised over $7 million for local charities. This year guests’ generosity will support the Stephen Center, a combination shelter, rehabilitation facility, and soup kitchen—one of the most impressive and effective organizations in the Midwest.

Smith-Madrone’s lot will be a set of four etched magnums of Cabernet Sauvignon from 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 and a dinner at the winery, located at the top of the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley.