New York-based online magazine TheDailyMeal.com has chosen Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery as its 2014 Winery of the Year “for their passion and for their activism, but most of all for a long history of quietly making excellent wines at sensible prices."
As editor Colman Andrews said, "For the first time, we are honoring a Winery of the Year... Reflecting the availability of wines from just about everywhere on our wine shop shelves and restaurant wine lists, we threw the field open to the whole world. Our intent was to choose one property or enterprise, anywhere in the world, that has not only produced excellent wines consistently over a substantial period of time but has also served as an innovator and/or inspiration in the wine business, whether dynamically or simply by example.”
The nominees were Charles Smith Wines, Chateau Pontet-Canet, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Domaine Paul Mas, Linden Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Smith-Madrone, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Taylor Fladgate and Tyrell’s Wines.
Smith-Madrone was included in this group “for creating, without fanfare, some of Napa Valley's best wines for almost 45 years, for industry leadership in labeling reform, and for utilizing innovative vineyard techniques that have led the way for other producers,” according to TheDailyMeal.com.
“We would have happily given honors to any of these properties, but as it happened, the majority of No. 1 votes from our panelists went to a 44-year-old Napa Valley winery that is highly respected within the industry, though neither a household name nor the object of a cult following …. Connoisseurs who really know California wine, though, tend to love them. The chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon regularly wine 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,” the announcement noted.
The runners-up were Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Tablas Creek Vineyard.
Founded in 1971, Smith-Madrone is perched at the top of Spring Mountain in St. Helena, and is open for tours and tastings Monday through Saturday, at 4022 Spring Mountain Road.
Tastings and tours are by appointment and are always conducted by either Charles Smith, winemaker, or his brother Stuart Smith, the general manager and enologist.