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It’s Riesling Season

May 17, 2017

Spring 2017

Dear Friends,

Photo of Riesling bottleWe send you warm greetings from the top of our mountain, where spring is far along, visible not only in the budding vines but in the lush rows of crimson clover, mustard and vetch.

It’s Riesling Season!

What better way to celebrate spring and summer family gatherings over a bottle of our 2014 Riesling which pairs beautifully with food or as an aperitif.  The 2014 vintage is generating enormous accolades from wine writers; let these distinguished experts tell you what they think in their own words.

The San Francisco Chronicle called it “one of the most impressive California rieslings we’ve tasted.” Wine & Spirits Magazine ranked the wine as the year’s best riesling. California Grapevine reviewed it as “Very highly recommended.” “Pure and zesty with a dry profile and focused acidity, one of the most consistently inspiring rieslings from California,” said Terroirist.
2014 Riesling label
Please consider buying a case!

Save the Date!

Watch your email for more details about a special winery event on October 7. This year we are celebrating our 40th crush!

Stu, Charlie & Sam

P.S. On May 15, 1971, Stuart Smith signed the paperwork to officially commence Smith-Madrone. 46 years and going strong!

Order button graphic


Photo of Stu_ Charles and Sam Smith

2014 Chardonnay is gorgeous

May 17, 2017

In the May 17 Santa Rosa Press-Democrat round-up of Chardonnays:

4 1/2 stars:
This is a gorgeous chardonnay, lush yet crisp, a commingling of delicious flavors. Aromas and flavors of pear, apple and mineral. Bright acidity. Supple mouth-feel. Striking.

46 years ago today!

May 15, 2017

Smith Madrone photo

On May 15, 1971, Stuart Smith signed the paperwork to officially commence Smith-Madrone.

46 years and going strong!

Watch the website for a commemorative event for our customers in the fall.

Riesling is a ‘great wine going happily down the hatch’

May 5, 2017

Sometimes a great wine goes happily down the hatch and I make a mental note to buy it again.  Sometimes a great wine sucks me in hook, line, and sinker and I want to learn everything about the who, what, where, when, why, and how.  The Smith-Madrone Vineyards 2014 riesling did just that.  I’d been gardening in the sun for several hours and was starving.  I grabbed some leftover grilled chicken, a few tortillas, a splash of salsa, and a bottle of riesling to enjoy in the backyard.  Riesling on a hot day, enjoyed al fresco, is the quintessential wine moment.   I went from sore and angry at the snails and white flies on my hibiscus, to relaxed and appreciative of life in Orange County.  A glass of Smith-Madrone produced this 180-degree attitude change, so I feel compelled to share my “5 W’s” research with Orange County wine lovers.

Who Brothers Stuart and Charles Smith. Stuart is the general partner and enologist.  Charles is the winemaker.  Sam Smith, son of Stuart, is assistant winemaker.

What 2014 riesling, 1,500 cases.  2014 chardonnay, 850 cases.  2013 cabernet sauvignon, 1,500 cases. The soil is rocky, volcanic, and has great drainage.

Where Spring Mountain District of Napa Valley. The vineyards sit at an elevation between 1,300 and 2,000 feet on steep slopes, with grades up to 34 percent.  Each varietal is planted with a specific exposure, to garner the best character and personality.

When Planted in 1972.  The riesling vines are 42 years old!

Why The brothers grew up in Santa Monica.  Stuart got his Masters in Viticulture from UC Davis.  In search of land for a vineyard, he learned of this forest location atop Spring Mountain, which he purchased in 1971.  He discovered it was actually a vineyard in the 1880s, and was on the Wagon Trail between Napa and Santa Rosa.  Stuart is now renowned as a mountain winegrower.   Charles, who became an internationally famed croquet player, joined him in 1973.

How The mountain-top location and the history as a vineyard inspired Stuart to dry-farm the vineyard.  Dry-farming means that no irrigation was given once the vines were established several decades ago.  This forces the vines to struggle in search of water that is deeper in the soil.  This struggle produces berries that are hardy enough to endure the thirsty challenge.  The grapes are smaller in size, but packed with flavor.

I would love several hours at a dinner table with Stuart, Charles, and Sam.  The stories and connection they must have from this family venture high in Napa’s mountains is the perfect dinner and drinking lore.  The closest I’ll come is a refill of riesling in my own backyard, but I have a big smile on my face.

You can find Smith-Madrone at Pavillions Newport Coast and Pavillions Bayside, or at

93 points, an exemplar of Spring Mountain District Cabernet

May 2, 2017

In the June 2017 issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Virginie Boone writes about Mastering Napa’s Mountains:

On p. 47 a bottle of 2013 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon nestles in the grass next to Spring Mountain Vineyard’s 2012 Elivette and Terra Valentine’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. This review runs on the facing page:

93 points, Editor’s Choice: From dry-farmed estate vines, this savory, classically styled red is dusty in cedar, dried herb and peppercorn, incredibly inviting and nuanced. It speaks quietly of the forest which surrounds its estate, a complex, balanced landscape of subtle, elegant flavor and intriguing length.

The article begins:

Early in the history of the Napa Valley, before the absurdity of Prohibition, grape growers raised their sights. With many hailing from Europe, they understood how wine grapes love to dig deep into hillsides and mountains.

Those pioneers…gave way by the 1950s to a new generation. Such innovators as …the Smith brothers…believed there should be distinct appellations for five of the Napa Valley’s highest mountains: Howell, Diamond, Spring, Mount Veeder and Atlas Peak.

What links the Cabernet Sauvignons from these mountains are their intensity and structure. Mountain fruit is often compact and concentrated, its berries tiny from seasons of struggle and loaded with powerful tannins that take time to unravel. There’s also a distinct spectrum of earthiness in these wines, a product of their wilderness of forest and rock.

…Here’s how these mountain appellations within the Napa Valley differ, and how they don’t…                                                    p. 36

The section on Spring Mountain District begins:

Hidden in plain sight above the town of St. Helena on the eastern side of the Mayacamas, the Spring Mountain District became an official appellation in 1993. The thick presence of forest and the springs throughout the mountain give the area its name and personality, a world away from the Valley below.

Spanning 500 to 2,600 feet in elevation, the appellation is 5,000 acres. Less than 10 per cent of that acreage is planted to grapevines; most is steep and forested. Sedimentary and volcanic loam soils are the norm, typified by high drainage and low fertility.

….Smith-Madrone…are among the longstanding adventurers here. …

Smith-Madrone’s Stu Smith and his brother, Charlie, settled on Spring Mountain in 1970, intrigued by mountain grapes…..     p. 46

Stu on KSRO Radio May 3

May 2, 2017

Listen to Stu talking to Dan Berger on KSRO on Wednesday May 3 between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.

Coordinates are 1350 AM or 103.5 FM:

2014 Chardonnay ‘finds complete balance’

April 28, 2017

In the June 2017 Wine Enthusiast, the 2014 Chardonnay is reviewed:

92 points

From the producer’s dry-farmed mountain vineyard, this wine is crafted from vines planted some 40 years ago. Peach, fig and pear wrap around this medium-weight wine’s integrated oak and gravelly texture. The acidity is bright, uplifting and lush enough to find complete balance.