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Ranking #6 in The Daily Meal’s 101 Best for 2017

August 8, 2017

101 Best Wineries in America 2017

by Colman Andrews, August 2, 2017

Our panel ranks the top producers from California and 13 other states, Washington to Virginia, Maryland to Texas. When Leif Erikson dubbed the North American coast “Vinland” or “Winland” back around 1000 A.D., he may or may not have meant to call our continent a land of vines (linguists say the term might also have meant “land of meadows”) — but a land of vines is what we’ve become. The sheer quantity and variety of good and great wine being made in America has grown exponentially in recent decades. It is now produced in all 50 states — and there are bottles worth savoring from almost every source.

Narrowing our national enological wealth down to a mere 101 wineries, then, is a daunting task each year. To help us meet the challenge, we reach out annually to experts in the field, from all over the country — sommeliers, wine writers and bloggers (including our own contributors, of course), chefs and restaurateurs, and of course the wine-savvy editors at The Daily Meal — asking them to nominate their favorite wineries (as many as ten per person) and to tell us what they like about them.

This year we invited about 60 of these professional (or passionate amateur) wine-lovers to weigh in….Collating the nominations, we ended up with a list of more than 250 wineries, old and new, large and small, many of them nominated numerous times. We factored in our own tasting notes of recent vintages, consulted the leading wine publications and newsletters, and considered recent awards from prestigious competitions, and narrowed the choices down to 101.

In the nomination process, we asked our panel to consider not just the obvious places but the entire country. The majority of our choices, 61 of the wineries listed, did turn out to be Californian; as noted, plenty of other places are doing a good job with wine, but the Golden State is still by far the largest producing state and still boasts the largest number of great wineries. The Pacific Northwest (Idaho included) is well-represented too — but you’ll also find wineries from New York (both the Finger Lakes and Long Island) and Virginia, and from Maryland, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

What you might notice missing are some of the most famous California “trophy wines” — the ones that would cost you $500 to $1000 or more per bottle, if you could even locate one for sale. These are absent because, for whatever reasons (and we could guess at a few of them), our panelists simply didn’t vote for them. That said, some wineries on our list do command top dollar, and some are difficult to find in ordinary retail channels and go primarily to longtime mailing list customers. On the other hand, there are plenty of easily accessible wines represented, too, many of them offering excellent wine at fair prices.

  1. Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery, St. Helena, Calif.

A couple of amiable, bearded-and-mustachioed brothers, Stuart and Charles Smith (no relation to prolific Washington State winemaker Charles Smith, No. 94) — vineyard manager and winemaker, respectively — make their winery home near the summit of Spring Mountain, long known as the home of some of  Napa Valley’s best producers. Here, they farm about 34 acres of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and riesling, with small quantities of merlot and cabernet franc for blending. Production remains small — about 5,000 cases a year — and Smith-Madrone wines seldom show up on trophy lists, but connoisseurs who really know wine tend to love them. The chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon regularly win gold medals around the country, and the winery’s exquisite riesling was named “Best Riesling in the World” in 1979 at the International Wine Championships sponsored by France’s Gault & Millau magazine. They’re under the radar, but on top of their game — which is why The Daily Meal named Smith-Madrone its 2014 Winery of the Year. Wine writer Gabe Sasso raves that “each Smith-Madrone offering is consistently delicious, vineyard-focused, and age-worthy, and also incredible value. Smith-Madrone’s cabernet sauvignon, which sells for just under $50, is as good — one vintage after another — as any in the Napa Valley, regardless of price.”

https://www.thedailymeal.com/drink/101-best-wineries-america-2017-slideshow/slide-97

https://www.thedailymeal.com/drink/101-best-wineries-america-2017

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