Several miles up the road from Guilliams Vineyards, Scott and I took a right at a cluster of mailboxes, traveled a bit further, and found ourselves in front of this navigational masterpiece..
The yellow arrow indicated, TURN RIGHT! So we did..and followed the bumpy road towards our next rendez-vous at Smith Madrone.
After driving through a dense thicket of trees, we arrived at what seemed to be the top of the world. What an incredible place to grow and make wine. Smith Madrone sits on approximately 200 acres way high up on Spring Mountain. The winery was founded in 1971 by Stuart Smith, and joined soon thereafter (1973) by his brother Charles as head winemaker. The winery takes its name from the Smith family as well as the evergreen Madrone tree that thrives in this region.
On these mostly steep mountainside vineyards, approximately 35 acres of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling have been planted, with a considerable portion of the vineyards dating back to 1972. Stuart Smith describes how certain slopes and exposures have been selected for each of the different varietals. More specifically, eastern exposures for Riesling, more western exposures and some of the flatter expanses for Cabernet Sauvignon, and the coolest, north-facing zones for Chardonnay. Approximately 1000 cases of each varietal are produced each year, which does not amount to a whole lot of wine.
Just past this vineyard Scott and I were greeted by the Smith Madrone mascot, muse and welcoming committee Curly, who affectionately greeted us with abundant tail wagging and a big muddy paw. If I could come back to this earth as an animal, I sure hope that its to live the life that Curly does. What a lucky dog!
Curly made sure that Scott and I found our way to the winery entrance, where we got warm, (and not so muddy) handshake from Charles Smith. Whew, we made it! Shortly thereafter brother Stuart arrived and we began tasting through a selection of wines, which included the current release of Cabernet Sauvignon (2004) Chardonnay (2007) and Riesling (2008). We dipped into a bit of recently vinified 2009 Riesling from tank, which tasted like the freshness and promise of spring, no kidding!
Winemaking at Smith Madrone is very hands on and “artisanal” in the purest sense of the word. Barrel fermentation, sur lie ageing, open top fermenations..Yes! Micro-oxygenation, reverse osmosis, excessive fining and filtering..No!
Beautiful mountain fruit, combined with judicious yet restrained winemaking practices make for a range of wines that not only showcase what they are-yes delicious, but more distinctly where they are from-Spring Mountain. And like the mountain upon which these vines grow, these wines can certainly stand the test of time.
For more photos taken at Smith Madrone, please check out “les photos”
For additional information on Smith Madrone, I highly suggest taking a look at the excellent winery website too.