California State Fair Wine Competition

bear logo IMG_8312The winners have been announced for the 2016 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.  The California State Fair Wine Competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious wine competitions. Only wines made with fruit grown in California are judged in this competition. Here are some facts from this competition 175 volunteers, 55 judges in just three days to taste 2,854 wines from more than 750 California wineries.  In the end, 115 Double Golds and 230 Golds were awarded and Smith Vineyard received both a Double Gold for our 2013 Primitivo and a Gold for our 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a “Best of California” award for our Primitivo, after receiving the “Best of Class of Region“.  This wine went up against all other regions…Yes, that would be Napa, Sonoma and all of the “big boys”.  In the end our 2013 Primitivo received a Double Gold, Best of Class of Region and Best of California and our 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Gold!
Both of these wines were grown and produced right here in Nevada County…grown, produced and bottled at Smith Vineyard…Cheers!

Vineyard Improvements

Vineyard Improvements:
Last Tuesday afternoon we walked the vineyard with Amigo Bob Cantisano. This marks the second year of our five year plan of vineyard improvements.
Our first generation consulted with Amigo Bob 35 years ago and now it is our turn.  Amigo Bob is one of the most widely experienced and influential figures in organic farming.  He is an organic farming advisor, the founder of Ecological Farming Conference (EcoFarm).  EcoFarm has been the largest sustainable agriculture conference for 36 years.  Amigo Bob is also one of the founders of C.C.O.F. (California Certified Organic Farmers).  All of this and he lives right here in Nevada County!
We began our five year plan two years ago as we began replacing 35 year old fencing. After this winter we will have only one more section of fencing to replace.  We have wanted to add another varietal.  We have plans to pull out block 5 vines (Merlot).  In doing so, it allows us to concentrate on the overall health of this section of the vineyard.  We will be tilling the soil and planting a cover crop this fall to feed the soil. This was confirmed by Amigo Bob as the best strategy.  In the Spring of 2017 this 3/4 acre section of our vineyard will be ready for a replant of Sauvignon Blanc vines.
Amigo Bob with Gary

Amigo Bob with Gary

2014 Harvest Update

Here it is…the first full day of Autumn.  Harvest has come and gone in a flash!  Yes, just like that!  In three short weeks all of the fruit ripened and was harvested.  Yes, this made for one crazy month!  In a typical year, our fruit is harvested in a six to eight week period.

The big question of the season has been…How has the drought affected your crop?  We were alloted the same amount of water from NID and we did have some late spring rain.  This rain carried us into summer without any problems.  We were grateful for the late rain because ground water is necessary during bud break.  All to say, we were off to a good start this past spring.  The late rain and no late spring frost made for a good start in our growing season.



The 2014 harvest began with Chardonnay on August 26.  The 2013 Chardonnay harvest was on September 12th.  Yes, a good two + weeks ahead of a normal year.


Harvest began two weeks ahead of a normal year and in half the time.  The drought might have had a factor in the earlier ripening.  Although, we also had a hot August with many long periods in the high 90’s.  We believe both of these factors contributed to the early harvest.


Saturday, September 20th, was the final day of the 2014 harvest.  All ten acres has been harvested and all of the fruit has been crushed. We have already pressed off some of the reds.  Chardonnay is fermenting slowly, at the right temperature in the cool stainless steel tank.

The winery is full!  The fermentation has begun!


Yes, the 2014 harvest and crush is complete.  We still have some work ahead of us, but we have much to celebrate…This begins our season of Thanks!  These two are tired but so, so grateful to have the privilege of farming…one more year.  Cheers to the 2014 vintage!