Holiday hours: Smith-Madrone will be closed from December 24 through January 1.
Insider tip: make Stu’s Red Wine Risotto for a cold-weather treat.
Hard to capture in a home kitchen is the experience of watching Stu prepare this dish at the winery on the “Wedding Lawn,” where he sets up his Scout camp stove to heat the pot of broth and house the enormous pan for the risotto itself!
Yield: Makes 12 servings
– 2 sticks of unsalted butter
– 8 oz. olive oil
– 2 onions, minced
– 6 quarts chicken broth
– 2 lbs. carnaroli rice or arborio rice
– ½ bottle Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon
– minced fresh Italian parsley
– freshly grated Parmesan
Put chicken broth into a large pot to heat over a medium flame; bring to just below the boiling point. You want the broth hot and steaming but not boiling. Place a ladle nearby. Melt butter in a large pan; when melted, add olive oil and gently heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until soft over medium heat. Add the rice and stir, coating all the grains. Next add the wine and stir until it’s absorbed and the rice grains take on a pinkish hue. Now start adding ladlefuls of the hot broth, stirring constantly. Only add another ladle when the previous one has been absorbed and there is no excess liquid in the pan. This will take about 30-35 minutes. After 25 minutes, start tasting until the grains of rice reach the softness you like in a risotto (some people prefer risotto softer vs. more al dente). Offer the finely minced Italian parsley and Parmesan as garnishes when you serve the risotto.
4022 Spring Mountain Road, St. Helena, California
Open Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
FOUNDED: 1971, by Stuart Smith
MANAGEMENT: Stuart Smith, Managing Partner, Enologist; Charles F. Smith III, Winemaker; Sam Smith, Assistant Winemaker
MOUNTAIN: The vineyards sit at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet, on steep slopes which range up to 34%.
VINEYARDS: All wines made entirely from the winery’s estate vineyards surrounding the winery on top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley. Stuart Smith chose specific slopes with different exposures for specific varietals when planting the vineyards: eastern exposure for Riesling, southern and western exposures across flat stretches for the Cabernet Sauvignon and the coolest north-facing slopes for the Chardonnay. There are numerous historical sights on the ranch, as well as the huge array of natural beauty and wildlife.
SOIL: The soils are mostly deep-red Aiken Stoney Clay loam, part of the Aiken, Kidd, Forward complex of soils which are volcanic-based, well-drained and deep for mountain soils. The underlying geology is the Franciscan Assemblage, unique to California coastal ranges, which includes altered mafic volcanic rocks, deep-sea radiolarian cherts, sandstones, limestones, serpentines, shales and high-pressure metamorphic rocks, all of them faulted and mixed in a seemingly chaotic manner as a result of tectonic plate activity. The soils are rocky, with some as large as small cars.
PRODUCTION: Approximately 4,000 cases a year
HOSPITALITY: Tours and tastings by appointment and gratis, always conducted by one of the Smith family
THE ESTATE: 200 acre ranch, partly planted as vineyard over a century ago; California black bears and other wildlife once thrived here; enormous 125-year-old Picholine olive trees frame a path and view overlooking Napa Valley and Bothe Napa Valley State Park
THE NAME: A tribute to the Smith brothers and a predominant tree on the ranch. The Madrone is an evergreen with a red-brown trunk and branches. In spring the tree bears lily-of-the-valley-like flower clusters; in fall orange-red berries appear.