High on Authenticity: Napa Valley's Smith-Madrone

High on Authenticity: Napa Valley's Smith-Madrone

Venture high up Napa's Spring Mountain, and you'll find yourself in a vinous time capsule, untouched by the rush of modern winemaking trends. Here lies Smith-Madrone, a testament to California's storied past, established in 1971 by brothers - Stuart and Charles Smith. As we discovered during our June visit, this is a world where the analog beauty of traditional winemaking stands tall, untouched by the glitzy allure of the modern age. 

Rooted in History 

The legacy of Smith-Madrone spans over five decades, the land itself whispering tales much older. Founded in 1971, this land is more than just a vineyard. It bears the marks of the 1880s, once part of a wagon trail connecting Napa and Santa Rosa. With each vine planted, the Smith brothers embraced the legacy of the terrain, curating a tribute to both family dedication and the ever-present Madrone trees that share the property. Carving a piece of history, the brothers built their winery with stones and lumber sourced directly from the land they cherished. And if the walls of their cellar, brimming with French and American barrels, could talk - oh, the tales they'd tell!

The Art of Precision Planting

When most were heading down the beaten path, Stuart Smith had an epiphany. Every slope, every exposure had a varietal calling its name. Riesling kissed by the morning sun, Cabernet basking in the southern warmth, and Chardonnay cradled in the arms of the cool north-facing embrace. This meticulous planting strategy wasn't just a whim; it drew from global viticultural traditions, honouring mountain grapes ready for the challenges ahead. 

A Ride with a View: 

Touring Smith-Madrone’s terrains certainly requires a sturdy ride. In our case, it was a trusty 4X4 Gator. And who better to accompany us than Jackson, their sprightly Spaniel with a curious (and sometimes daredevil!) fascination for the Gator's wheels. As we delved deeper into the estate, Stuart revealed to us a world teeming with local wildlife, punctuated by the majestic panoramas of the Napa Valley below.

Trials by Fire:

This story wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Smith brothers' courage in facing down the recent Napa wildfires. Their unwavering commitment to the land shone through as they recounted tales of protecting their vineyards against nature’s unpredictability.

A Toast to Tradition: 

Every bottle from Smith-Madrone is a balance of nature and expertise. Consistent techniques, dedicated caretakers, yet each year brings a distinct wine. Why? It's the unpredictable charm of nature. Each season, nature offers unique conditions, creating a signature character for the wines. The wines we tasted were a case in point - Chardonnay, Riesling, and Cabernet, each reflecting the region's unique terroir and the Smith brothers' prowess.


The Wines: 

Smith-Madrone, Chardonnay 2018

Smith-Madrone, Cabernet Sauvignon 2019