Congressman Mike Thompson comes to the winery

STUART & CHARLES SMITH HONORED WITH CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTION

PRESENTED BY REP. MIKE THOMPSON

Watch the presentation video on our Instagram page

St. Helena, Napa Valley, September 23, 2022 — Congressman Mike Thompson presented a Congressional Resolution to Stuart Smith and Charles Smith of Smith-Madrone Winery on September 23 at the winery on Spring Mountain Road in St. Helena. The Resolution was read on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. on June 16, 2022. Mike Thompson represents California’s 5th Congressional District which includes all of Napa and parts of Contra Costa, Lake, Solano and Sonoma Counties.

In presenting the framed document to the Smith brothers, Congressman Thompson said: “….First let me say I’ve lived five miles from here just about my entire life. I was born right over this ridge….I can’t remember the last time I went to Santa Rosa or to Sonoma County any other way than Spring Mountain Road but I’ve never been on this property so it is a treat for me to be here…I’ve known Stu for a long long time….I just can’t get over how beautiful this property is…What incredible stewards of the land Stu and Charlie have been and are. It’s a real tribute to be able to say this is what we’ve done, this is how we’re taking care of it and it’s going to be around for a long time…Thanks for 50 years of good work. I look forward to being back up here over the course of the next 50 years.”

The Resolution text reads:

We are in the Congressional Record

Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor Stuart Smith and Charles Smith, founders of the Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery in celebration of the winery’s 50th anniversary.

The Smith-Madrone Winery was founded on May 14, 1971. Its vineyards are located on top of Spring Mountain in Napa Valley at 1,200 to 1,300 feet in elevation. The winery only produces wine from these 50-year-old local vineyards that are enriched by the county’s deep red Aiken loam soil.

Smith-Madrone Winery played an integral role in the international popularization of Napa Valley wines. The winery first prompted international recognition when its 1977 Riesling was named the world’s Best Riesling by wine experts in the first international Wine Olympics in Paris in 1979. Additionally, Smith-Madrone received The Daily Meal’s Winery of the Year award in 2014. In 2020, the winery was chosen by the University of California, Berkeley to conduct a virtual wine tasting to attendees of the University’s homecoming events.

Stuart and Charles have positively impacted the wine community through their involvement in the Napa Valley wine community. Stuart was appointed to the 2008 General Plan Steering Committee and the 1998 Napa River Watershed Task Force by the Napa County Board of Supervisors. Starting in 2006, Charles has published weekly harvest report for the St. Helena Star, until Stuart took over writing the report column in 2012. Stuart also served as chairman of the 1986 and co-chairman of the 2005 Napa Valley Wine Auction.

Madam Speaker, it is evident that Stuart Smith and Charles Smith, through the Smith-Madrone Winery and their community involvement, have made important contributions to the Napa Valley wine community. Therefore, it is fitting and proper that we honor them here today.

2016 & 2017 Riesling discussed at JancisRobinson.com

Napa isn’t just about Cabernet and Chardonnay …

by Richard Hemming, September 23, 2022

Riesling completists, take note! Napa is probably one of the last places you might look for your fix of this most obsessive-compulsive of grapes, but Smith-Madrone prove that it can be done, and done well.

Mountain viticulture is surely one of the vital elements, and the fog-wreathed hillsides shown above give an indication of the cooling influence that will benefit Riesling. Smith-Madrone’s vineyards lie between 1,300 and 2,000 feet (400–610 m) with some slopes as steep as 34% according to their website. Furthermore, their Riesling vines date from their first plantings in 1972. They are own-rooted and the vineyards unirrigated.

Such qualities indicate the sort of purist approach that bodes well, since old vines are generally revered for greater concentration of fruit and ungrafted vines are considered more authentic by some (perhaps unfairly, although they are certainly rare), while unirrigated vineyards appeal to our desire for minimal manipulation, especially when water is increasingly scarce.

Regardless, the 2016 vintage of Smith-Madrone Riesling confirmed all the expectations of excellence. It has flavour characteristics that echo the great German archetypes, yet is distinctly New World, perhaps most obviously via soft acidity that would be unusual in most Teutonic versions. Their helpful tech sheet reveals titratable acidity on the lower side of the Riesling range, at 8.1 grams per litre, although the pH of 3.04 is typical.

Furthermore, residual sugar is 6.8 grams per litre, giving that impression of slight sweetness which is Riesling’s great gift to the world. Six years of bottle age has brought out flavours of basil leaf, lime cordial, lemon meringue and a definite petrographic aroma that might be described as slate or oil or mineral, depending on your preference.

Bottle of Smith-Madrone Riesling 2016

While it will doubtless continue to mature, I felt it was showing at its best for drinking right now, with intact primary fruit and maturing complexity in equal measure – it is a wine to relish in all its varietal glory.

However, many markets have moved on to the 2017 vintage, which is the current release. Our US executive editor Elaine, who knows the producer in far more detail than I do, advises that their Riesling is ‘guided by style in the sense that they have to centrally pay attention to sugar levels since they want it to be on the drier side of things and so specifically aim for that style, whereas the Chardonnay and Cabernet are guided more by vintage conditions. That said, I believe their wines in general are guided by structural focus and vintage honesty.’

She adds, ‘Smith-Madrone in general has worked hard to keep their wines at good value for the region and still produce one of the best-value Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley as well. The consistency across their wines is excellent (with appropriate vintage variation), and they each age quite impressively as well. The two brothers who founded it got up in the mountains of the Spring Mountain District in the early 1970s, and in many ways represent the last generation that could be middle class and start a new property in Napa Valley but they also happened to get in at a time when Cabernet from mountain property was still a relatively less explored concept so land was available and restrictions were not yet in place.’

 https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/smith-madrone-riesling-201617-spring-mountain-district

Stu is quoted in Bloomberg harvest round-up

Elin McCoy at Bloomberg does an international harvest recap on September 18.

She quotes Stu:

An all-over-the-place picture in California…On Spring Mountain, Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone says his chardonnay will be good, but down 25% to 30%.

The editor illustrated with a photo from Smith-Madrone’s Instagram of Ulysses Martinez-Duran standing next to a gondola of Cabernet Sauvignon:

The rest of the article:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-09-19/wine-harvest-2022-brutal-hot-summer-means-lower-yields-hope-for-good-quality?leadSource=uverify%20wall

Free Run Juice reviews the current releases

Doug Wilder reviews the current releases on Free Run Juice (his online newsletter affiliated with Purely Domestic Wine Report):

This week looks at the current releases from the Smith brothers at Smith-Madrone. Founded in 1971, this dry-farmed estate on Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain produces exceptionally well-made wines at value points commonly seen no later than a quarter-century ago.

2018 Chardonnay: The nose is pristine toast, crème brûlée, Meyer lemon, penetrating pineapple and saline with a whiff of mint. The palate entry shows taut acidity leading to a graham cracker, citrus and marshmallow core finishing with pain grillée and apricot. Drink 2022-2034.

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon: The nose is forward juniper and bay laurel with sticky shrub berries and chocolate. The palate entry is lean herbal-tinged red fruit with a textured core of raspberry, hard cherry and watermelon finishing with silky brown spice. Drink 2022-2045.

2017 Riesling: The nose is peach and mango with alluring perfume of orange pulp. The palate entry is focused apricot and sticky lemon with a core of spice and resinous herb. This producer always excels with this variety. Drink 2022-2033.

http://www.purelydomesticwinereport.com/

A rosé that stands out…in Forbes

Cathy Huyghe wrote about Rosé in Forbes and tasted the 2021 Smith-Madrone:

“….“Hearty” is not typically a word used to describe rosé wine, but it’s the first one that came to mind for me when I saw the color of the 2021 Smith-Madrone Rosé. It’s only the third time in their long history that Smith-Madrone has released a rosé wine, and it’s made from that producer’s own Merlot and Cabernet Franc from their estate vineyards at the top of the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley.

If a producer preserves the authenticity of their style and the “hearty” nature of their terroir, and that producer’s vineyards are on Napa’s Spring Mountain, then this is how their rosé wine must look. It’s described as an “extravagant, piercing color” that is such a “vibrant pink it’s practically radioactive.” I’d agree with that description except for the “pink,” which is so unlike the pale salmon pink color most often associated with rosé that it’s almost misleading.

It is a rosé, but one that stands out. It is crisp and refreshing, but with a core of minerality. You do want to drink it during the summer, but you also know that it will flow right into sweater season just fine.

Which means that this rosé is a perfect way to close the “recap” of rosé wine for the summer of 2022, largely because it represents an emerging variety of rosé options, including several of which will push the rosé summertime drinking season well beyond Labor Day weekend…”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/cathyhuyghe/2022/08/31/ros-wine-recap-summer-2022/?sh=357eda0479d5

Stu is on a panel after movie about regenerative farming

Read on for details about a special event-movie screening and panel discussion about the film To Which We Belong, being screened in St. Helena on September 4.

CAMEO CINEMA CELEBRATES REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

To Which We Belong screens on September 4 with director Q&A

St. Helena, Napa Valley, August 2022 — The Cameo Cinema offers a special screening of To Which We Belong, a film by Pamela Tanner Boll about regenerative agriculture. The film will be screened at 1:00 pm on Sunday, September 4. Special ticket price is $10; the event is funded by a grant from the Richard Reed Foundation.

The film will be followed by a panel featuring filmmaker/producer Pamela Tanner Boll, Ben Mackie from Napa Green, Stuart Smith from Smith-Madrone Winery and Laddie Hall from Long Meadow Ranch. Cathy Buck will moderate and direct questions to the panelists.

More about the film: https://www.towhichwebelong.com/film

Attendees will enjoy wines donated by Titus Vineyards and Smith-Madrone Winery, wineries which farm sustainably in the Napa Valley.

“Some farmers have begun to see that their traditional farming practices are actually killing the soil and its useful microorganisms,” explains Pamela Tanner Boll, the director of To Which We Belong.” “They’re seeing that when the soil is healthy, their plants can withstand the pests. As I learned more about all of this, I wanted to know more. I wanted to see whether these ideas and practices—referred to as regenerative agriculture—could spread further. And thus came the film,” she added. More at https://www.towhichwebelong.com/pamela_tanner_boll

The Cameo Cinema is located at 1340 Main Street in St. Helena. It’s recommended that tickets be purchased in advance at https://www.cameocinema.com/movie/to-which-we-belong .

About Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith founded Smith-Madrone Winery on top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley in 1971. Today he is respected for his expertise and leadership as a mountain vineyardist.

The vineyards are primarily dry-farmed on steep mountainsides surrounding the winery at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet and the slopes extend in steepness up to 35%. In 2018 Stu was named one of Wine’s Most Inspiring People as a pioneer and champion of hillside grape growing, by Wine Industry Advisor. After graduating from UC Berkeley, while pursuing his master’s at UC Davis, Stuart was the first teaching assistant for wine industry pioneers Maynard Amerine and Vernon Singleton. He taught enology at Santa Rosa Junior College and Napa Valley College.

About Ben Mackie

Ben Mackie is the Vineyard Program Manager for Napa Green. For the past 15 years, Ben has been designing and implementing regenerative farming systems in a variety of ecosystems. A New Englander by birth, Ben fell in love with agriculture in the verdant fields of northern California in high school. Ever since, Ben has been managing farms, improving soils, and educating the next crop of environmental stewards with a holistic view of farming with natural systems. No stranger to Napa, he previously lived on Mt. Veeder, where he fell in love with the oak and madrone woodlands and made friends with the local ravens.

About Laddie Hall

In 1989 Laddie Hall and her husband Ted founded Long Meadow Ranch winery and farm, which encompasses three vineyard estates and the Farmstead restaurant in St. Helena. On more than 2,000 acres, they raise everything from grapes to olives to heirloom fruits and vegetables to chickens and grass-fed, long-haired Scottish Highland cattle organically.

The Cameo Cinema is a single-screen movie theater committed to fostering an appreciation for cinema’s cultural heritage and producing exemplary theatrical experiences.  Founded on May 15, 1913, the theater changed hands several times over the next few decades and its name changed with every sale.  Cathy Buck assumed the lease in 2008 and subsequently installed digital sound and laser projection equipment equal to the best cinema houses in the nation. She has infused this classic ‘movie palace’ with Napa Valley’s legendary style and hospitality, fostering a vibrant sense of community through the film-going experience. More: http://www.cameocinema.com

The Cameo Cinema Foundation is an organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of one of the oldest continuously running single screen theaters in America, which opened its doors in 1913. The purpose of this organization is to support the Cameo Cinema as a community asset, operating as a nonprofit single screen, state of the art community film center which enhances the artistic, educational, cultural and social life of Saint Helena and the Napa Valley. More:  https://www.cameocinemafoundation.org

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Our Rosé: perfect for summer evenings

Summer Evening from Spring Mountain

Happy summer! Cheers to BBQs, beaches and wine with friends!

The perfect wine for your summer fun just might be our 2021 Rosé.

It’s only the third time we’ve made a Rosé. You won’t see it on restaurant or retail shelves; it’s only available at the winery and from our website.

Winemaker Charlie Smith describes this special rosé:

It’s an extravagant, piercing color – such a vibrant pink it’s practically radioactive. It’s a reliable signal that something a little different is going on here. Aromatically the wine leads with notes of cherries, strawberry and attar of roses. The wine demonstrates real panache; it comes across as fresh and lively with an excellent marriage of bright fruit and juicy acidity. The mid-palate is silky and luscious and is anchored by a firm core of minerality. The finish is clean, crisp, flavorful, and refreshing. What stands out is its fun-quotient. It’s just a delightful glass of wine.

Our 2021 Rosé

Stu simply adds that “this is the best rosé you will ever taste!”

The blend is 33% Merlot and 67% Cabernet Franc, of course all sourced from our estate vineyards surrounding the winery at the top of the Spring Mountain.

Guests who have tasted the wine are telling us that this rosé is literally “head and shoulders above most of the rosés out in the world today.” It is not only a fabulous color but a sophisticated and complex wine on the palate.

Let us know what you think!

Please grab some while you can! We expect to be sold out by September 1.

And while you’re at it:

Smith-Madrone Current Releases

2017 Riesling is 92 and ‘balanced’ in the summer issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine

The 2017 Riesling was reviewed in the summer issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine:

92 points: A youthful five-year-old riesling, this wine feels weightless in its heady jasmine floral scents and pretty lemon-tart flavors. The mountain-grown minerality creates a tense frame around the fruit and flowers, setting this up as an age-worthy white. Balanced and lasting.