Napa Pioneers: Stuart Smith, a hillside trailblazer

Stuart and his brother, Charles, founded Smith-Madrone winery in 1971, at a time when there was little in the way of hillside plantings in Napa Valley. Armed with a Master’s degree in viticulture and enology, Smith’s efforts to cultivate grapes on the hillside of Spring Mountain proved successful. A passionate viticulturist and believer in dry faming (which forces the roots to grow deep in order to find water, resulting in a greater expression of terroir), Smith is often characterized as a gruff and opinionated mountain man. But the reputation of his wines is just the opposite: Known for their elegance and ageability, Smith-Madrone’s Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are considered classic expressions of Napa Valley hillside fruit, and they’ve made the man them a Napa Valley legend.

Read about Napa pioneers Peter Mondavi Sr. and Cathy Corison.