Post-Fire Interview with Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone plus 3 wines with pairings and a helping of gratitude

Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone

“I like wine – I think it’s my favorite beverage on the face of the earth,” said Stu Smith General Partner and Enologist at Smith-Madrone. “Wine’s first obligation is to give pleasure—it’s hedonistic.”

Thank goodness for wine in 2020!

In a year full of fire and disease, drinking wine is one of the few pleasures we can count on, and for that we’re grateful.

But making red wine in 2020 from Napa? May not happen.

“This year has been a strange year for all kinds of reasons,” Stu said.

In the Before Times, I visited Stu at Smith-Madrone high above Napa Valley on Spring Mountain among the Madrone trees — hence the name, a marriage between the Smith brothers, Charlie and Stu, and the Madrones which embrace their vineyards.

winemaker to winemaker: Gretel Compton of Clos des Amis and Stu Smith chat at Smith-Madrone

Two weeks ago, Stu and I chat again via cell phone. Service is spotty in the best of times up there, and because of the Glass Fire, there’s no land lines. Power only recently returned thanks to several hundred PG&E employees who formed a temporary city at Charles Krug.

“What do you see when you look out?” I asked Stu who has found a spot near the winery with reception.

“I’m looking at Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc to the right and olive trees to the left,” he responded. The white wine grapes were losing their leaves, while the reds were still holding on to theirs. In the valley, he reported that with the temperature dropping down to the 20s, vines there had more color. Between the rows of vines on Spring Mountain, the cover crop was starting to come in fresh and green in response to the first real rains of the season.

“Looking over the vines I can see the part of Howell Mountain that burnt,” Stu continued.

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#MerlotMe More with Napa’s Peju

As we cautiously consider moves further from home, wineries with expansive lawns and trees  like at Charles Krug and gracious gardens like at Peju will be precious places to visit.

Napa Valley’s Peju offers one such retreat with its distinctive 50 foot tower designed by renowned Southern California architect Calvin Straub which graces the label’s estate-bottled Peju wine.

In the Before Time, I visited Continue reading