Our Riesling is ‘racy’ and more

Rieslings for People Who Think They Hate Riesling

by Emily Saladino at VinePair, April 17, 2019

Whether you think of Riesling as overly sweet or aggressively acidic, the German-born white wine has a lot of misconceptions to overcome. Yes, there are plenty of unbalanced Rieslings out there, but there are also terroir-driven bottles being thoughtfully made worldwide, from France and Germany to Australia and the U.S..

Ready to rethink Riesling? We gathered a panel of loyalists and detractors to find bottles with widespread appeal. Here are nine Rieslings for people who have sworn off the stuff.

2015 Smith-Madrone Riesling, Napa Valley, USA

This is what people mean when they call wine ‘racy,’” one of our tasters said upon sipping this California Riesling. Its acidity is bright but balanced by soft fruit and a funky nose. Its deliciously long finish impressed our panel, as did its aging potential. 


Join us at KQED’s Taste & Sip in San Francisco

Come find us at Taste & Sip in San Francisco on May 14 at the San Francisco Design Galleria. The VIP portion of the event is 5:45  – 6:30 p.m.; the main event is 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Organized by KQED and Leslie Sbrocco, you can sample delicious food from restaurants featured on the show and taste not only our wines but many others. There will be more than 50 local culinary creators all under one roof.

The evening will feature live jazz by the Nomad Band and an opportunity to audition for KQED producers for a chance to appear as a reviewer in the next season of Check, Please! Bay Area.

Featured Restaurants: ADEGA, Angeline’s Kitchen, Bar Crudo, Bistro Boudin, BackDoor Bistro and Wine Bar, Basque Cultural Center, Bobo’s Steak House, Bull Valley Roadhouse, Canela Bistro & Wine Bar, Cliff House, Dad’s Luncheonette, Dishdash Restaurant, Duende, Dragon Beaux, Golden Lotus Vegan Restaurant, Hana Japanese Restaurant, Juanita & Maude, Jupiter, Lers Ros, LillieMae’s House of Soul Food Catering, Los Moles, Lovejoy’s Tea Room, M.Y. China, Marnee Thai, Maybeck’s, Moss Beach Distillery, Noodle Theory Provisions, Old Jerusalem Restaurant, Old Skool Café, Pausa Bar & Cookery, Pläj, Poesia, Picante, RÊVE, Rocker Oysterfeller’s Kitchen + Saloon, Sapore Italiano Ristorante, Slow Hand BBQ, Smoke Berkeley LLC, Tay Ho Oakland Restaurant & Bar, The Hummingbird, The Little Chihuahua Mexican Restaurant, ThirstyBear Brewing Company, Valette, Z & Y Restaurant, and more!

More info: https://www.kqed.org/checkplease/20063/attention-food-and-wine-lovers-kqed-check-please-bay-area-taste-sip-2019

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kqeds-check-please-taste-sip-2019-tickets-58761174254?aff=eventpage

2015 Riesling crisp and more

In Napa Sonoma Magazine, Laura Levy Shatkin reviews the 2015 Riesling:

Founded in 1971 by Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone is one of the few entirely estate-vineyard mountain wineries in Napa’s Spring Mountain District. The winery’s grapes are dry-farmed, growing on the mountain’s steep slopes at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet. This white is refreshing yet round, with crisp citrus fruit, apricot, pear, minerality, and bright acidity. 


Riesling transports you to India (in Napa)

Want to taste the 2014 Riesling in a very unusual setting? How about the 3D Dining Experience at Copia?! The Riesling is part of the ‘trip’ to India—read on!


The CIA at Copia is excited to be the first to bring a truly innovative 3D culinary experience to the Napa Valley and West Coast. Join us for a two-hour journey, where you will be transported to the Silk Road traveled by the legendary Marco Polo. Throughout your voyage, you’ll discover vibrant sights, sounds, scents and tastes inspired by his travels, along with unexpected flavors that will captivate the senses.

As you follow along Marco Polo’s footsteps with Le Petit Chef™, you’ll feast on a spice trail inspired six-course dinner prepared by our creative team of CIA chefs led by Chef Todd Meyerhofer. Le Petit Chef 3D Dining Experience at Copia is a one-of-a-kind dining experience featuring cutting-edge 3D technology and visual storytelling by the world-renowned artists of Skullmapping™ and TableMation™.

Le Petit Chef 3D Dining Experience is offered Thursday–Saturday 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.  Address is 500 First Street in Napa (707/967-2500).

The menu consists of:

Course 1 Amuse Marseille

Tuna Nicoise Tart
Duck Liver, Apple Butter, Brioche
The Seville
Course 2 Arabia

Kofta Kebabs “Lamb Meatballs,” Raita
Vegetable Tagine, Preserved Lemon Couscous
Dates, Spiced Labneh, Candied Pistachios
Hummus, Olive Oil, Naan
Domaine Huet, Vouvray, Le Mont Demi-Sec, 2017
Course 3 India

Coconut-Curry Shrimp with Vegetable Noodles
Smith-Madrone, Spring Mountain, Riesling, 2014
Course 4 Himalaya

Citrus Sorbet and Yogurt
Course 5 China

Duck Two Ways:
Roasted Breast and Braised Thigh in Red Bean Paste, greens with garlic, maitake mushrooms
Rivers-Marie, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir, 2017
Course 6 Finale

Saffron-Cardamom Rice Pudding
Kiralyudvar, Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos, Hungary, 2007
Skullmapping is a Belgium-based artistic collective founded by Filip Sterckx, an award-winning filmmaker, and art gallery owner, Antoon Verbeeck. Utilizing innovative technology and their extensive artistic knowledge, they tell captivating stories with stunning, inventive visuals.

TableMation uses overhead projections to animate place settings at dinner services with clever forced-perspective visual effects and character animations.


Charlie answers ten questions

Charlie answers the Napa Register’s 10 Questions:

March 6, 2019

Charles F. Smith is the winemaker and jack of all trades for Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery.

After graduating from Santa Monica High School, Smith went to school at the University of California Berkeley, where he discovered wine, and San Francisco State University, where he studied for a master’s degree in English literature, which to this day remains uncompleted.

In his “wild oats” days, he worked as a probation officer, a furniture mover and a taxi cab driver in San Francisco.

In 1971, he earned a K-12 teaching credential. After teaching for a while, he joined his brother Stuart Smith at Smith-Madrone in 1973.

Smith has lived in St. Helena for 46 years.

  1. What was your first job?

I was 15 and on the staff of a wonderful Boy Scout camp called Emerald Bay on Catalina Island.

I think I earned about $300 for the summer, maybe less. But no matter, it was a place I loved dearly.

  1. How did you get into the wine business?

I followed my brother into the business. It was a hobby that got completely out of control.

  1. What is the biggest challenge the wine industry has faced?

I’m a conservative on land use issues and I think over-regulation in Napa County is on the verge of strangling small wineries out of existence. Not everyone who owns a small winery is a billionaire.

Continue reading “Charlie answers ten questions”

Find us at Slow Wine USA Tour tastings


Tastings in San Francisco, Denver and New York City

Napa Valley, February 2019 —Smith-Madrone is participating in the Slow Wine USA tour this spring, at tastings in San Francisco, Denver and New York City.

The Slow Wine Guide chose a limited number of wineries to feature in its spring 2019 magazine, and Smith-Madrone’s wines were highlighted.

The 2015 Chardonnay was described as having “flavors of ripe yellow apples, lemon curd, and savory kitchen herbs lead to a luxurious, vivacious texture and a long, spirited finish.”

“Aromas of crunchy red fruits and vegetal and herbaceous undertones are enriched by juniper berries, incense, and earth. The palate reflects the complexity of the nose along with a savory umami character and polished mountain tannins” is how the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon was described.

The San Francisco tasting takes place on Monday, March 4, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm at Pier 27, The Embarcadero. This event is only for members of the trade.

The Denver tasting takes place on Thursday, March 7 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at The Source, 3350 Brighton Blvd. This event is only for the trade.

The New York tasting takes place on Monday, March 11 at Eataly Downtown, 4 World Trade Center, 101 Liberty Street, Floor 3. From 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. media and VIP trade will be welcomed; from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. trade will be welcome and from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. consumers are invited.

Smith-Madrone will be pouring its current releases—2016 Chardonnay, 2015 Riesling and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon; as with all of its wines, these are entirely estate-grown in the vineyards surrounding the winery on the top of the Spring Mountain District in St. Helena,. Continue reading “Find us at Slow Wine USA Tour tastings”

Lori Budd podcasts with Stu

Lori Budd of Dracaena Wines podcasted with Stu:

Ep. 92 Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone Winery


It took a while, in fact several months, but we finally got our schedules to mesh and it was well worth the wait. I had the honor of sitting down with Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone Winery in Napa. In May 1971, with a partnership of family and friends, Stuart Smith bought the ‘terroir’ which today is Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery. At the age of 22 armed with a B.A. in Economics from UC Berkeley on his way to a Master’s in Viticulture at UC Davis he sought land to plant a vineyard in the Napa Valley, and found the highest part of Spring Mountain. He hasn’t looked back since. Stu is one of the most respected individuals in the wine industry and as you listen you will see why. His breadth of knowledge and passion are incredible!

The dialogue was fantastic and lasted two hours. I thought it would be best to break the interview up into two episodes. In this episode we talk about history, changes in the wine industry, soil, and toys that boys like to play with (chainsaws)!


Two Guys From Napa visited….

Two Guys From Napa stopped by:

Winery Spotlight: Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery

February 9, 2019

Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery in Napa Valley is a hidden gem, offering outstanding wines and a nostalgic tasting experience in a beautiful natural setting. Founded by Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone has been producing top quality wines since its first vintage in 1977. The winery sits on top of Spring Mountain in Northwest Napa Valley on steep slopes, with elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet, surrounded by a huge array of natural beauty and wildlife. Although Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery is on a 200-acre ranch, just a small portion of the estate is planted to grapes and the winery only produces about 4,000 cases per year.

Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery – The Story

Stuart Smith, with a partnership of family and friends, acquired the property which became Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery in 1971. Two years later, Stuart’s brother Charles Smith joined the winery and became its Winemaker. The name Smith-Madrone is a tribute to the Smith Brothers and the predominant tree on the ranch: The Madrone, an evergreen tree with red-brown trunk and branches that bear lily-of-the-valley-like flower clusters in the spring and orange-red berries in the fall. In 1972, Smith-Madrone planted its first vineyards with Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir (the Pinot Noir was eventually grafted to Chardonnay in 1989). However, the ranch was originally planted with vines in the 1800s by George Cook, the first owner of the property. Today, the vineyards consist of about 37 acres and Cabernet Franc and Merlot have been added to the plantings. Continue reading “Two Guys From Napa visited….”

2015 Riesling is “Outstanding”

Amber LeBeau looks at the 2015 Riesling:

The Geekery

When Stu and Charlie Smith bought 200 acres on the top of Spring Mountain in 1970, the area was so densely covered with Douglas Firs, poison oak and Madrones that they needed a logging permit to clear the land.

However, Stu Smith’s belief that the best grapes come from the hillsides encouraged him to plant in this area that still had remnants of old grapevine stakes from the 1880s.

Today, the Smiths focus on estate-grown fruit that is dry-farmed on their 200-acre ranch. In 2015, Smith-Madrone produced 685 cases of the Riesling.

The Wine

The stony flint notes adds some intriguing Old World elegance to this Riesling.

High-intensity nose. Green apple and apricot. Very fresh smelling. As the wine warms, petrol also shows up adding more complexity.

On the palate, the same high-intensity of the nose carries through with very vivid and intense green apple and apricot. The high, mouthwatering acidity also highlights some lime as well as a stony flint note that reminds me more of a Sancerre than a Riesling. Dry with medium body weight. Long-finish brings back the petrol but it’s not as intense as the fruit.

The Verdict

This is an outstanding Riesling that I’m disappointed that it took me this long to discover.

At $30-35, this is on the high-end for American Rieslings. But I’m not pulling your leg when I’m saying that this is, hands down, the best domestic Riesling that I’ve tried. I’m spoiled with a lot of great Washington State Rieslings but this tops them. I would put this Smith-Madrone more on par with minerally Trocken Rieslings from Germany.

However, the last Riesling that impressed this much was the Alsatian Cuvée Frédéric Emile from Trimbach. While a different style, this Smith-Madrone is not that far off in quality and is certainly worth the splurge. If you can find it, grab it.