Not long ago, my editor at San Francisco Magazine asked me to write a story about wine country distilleries. I, of course, reluctantly accepted this daunting task and dragged my heels for about 10 seconds before jumping into my car to begin my “research”. After touring quite a few distilleries in Napa and Sonoma and meeting a handful of distillers (and uber drivers), I found myself at Napa Valley Distillery.
Here, when I saw this unbelievably hip and under-the-radar secret that had been hiding in my hood only blocks from the tasting room, my journey took an unexpected turn. I was immediately charmed by proprietors Arthur and Lusine Hartunian, their business and dream (and of course their array of sultry, handcrafted, cocktails and spirits). So charmed, in fact, that I ended up investing in the distillery! And, while I haven’t checked the California statutes on squatting, I believe I may actually technically be a resident of the distillery as well.
We're excited to join them for an inaugural event this fall to celebrate our friendship, partnership, and shared belief in making delicious, intoxicating, handcrafted products. This event, held September 22, is a James Bond(ish) themed evening full of Smith Devereux wines, including some new releases, amazing cocktails, and spirits from the distillery, paella, and so much more.
Oh, and my band is playing, and all of our wine club members get to be a bar club member for a day at this party! That means discounted tickets and purchases and all the other perks that come with being a member of Napa Valley Distillery. It’s going to be one hell of a party - if you're a Smith Devereux member, you do not want to miss this one! Stay tuned for ticket information!
My friends, this is just the beginning… wait until you hear what else we have in store with our new friends…
It was an honor to be invited to the ESPY’s and to be one of the featured wineries at the ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards. The event was beautiful and the amount of time and love and money that these sports celebrities are giving to important causes is staggering. People say that it’s easy to give when you have a lot, and even if you believe that to be true, what is given is no less useful, and kindness no less real.
We should all be so lucky, and so motivated, to change the world for the better. And with that, we raise a glass to all those who gave, and to people like Jon Stewart, David Robinson and Laila Ali who do so much for our community and world.
Our mission - conquer the wine world. But while we're on our way to achieving that goal, tasting you through Smith Devereux wines is one thing we absolutely nail right now.
Ever wonder where the owners, vintners, and winemakers are while you’re sipping through their wines in the tasting room? Do you have questions you’re itching to ask but know your host won’t be able to steer you straight? Wonder no more my friends, our private vintners tasting experiences are led by founders and vintners Ian Devereux or Steve Smith, and, if you’re super lucky, a combination of the two. Here are the 5 Ws of the Smith Devereux tasting experience (six if you count wine…).
You and your loved ones, dates, friends, business partners, husbands, wives, partners, teammates, colleagues and even adversaries… Heck, Everyone! Big groups, small groups, private parties, milestone celebrations... Anyone you simply love sharing fantastic wine with— plus your host, Smith or Dev!
A spread of world-class wines from meticulously farmed, sustainable vineyards alongside some of our favorite food pairings. Our award-winning lineup ranges from a refreshingly crisp Napa Valley Chardonnay to a limited production, single-vineyard Merlot to a powerful, award-winning California red blend. On top of the wine, though, what we really enjoy sharing is our story. Every bottle tells a story, and the journey to sitting in this tasting room with you has been a wild ride.
The majority of our vintner’s tastings will take place at the JaM Cellars tasting room in Downtown Napa. JaM Cellars, owned by Smith Devereux partner John Anthony Truchard, is a lively, funky, intimate spot in the heart of downtown Napa with guitars on the walls and a fully functioning music recording studio. The tasting room is as down-to-earth as it is refined in style… kind of like our wines.
Beyond the tasting room, we like to provide a little creative freedom when it comes to your wine tasting. Here are some examples of where your meet-the-owner tasting can also take place:
NOW! But this part is up to you, dear reader. JaM Cellars tastings have officially kicked off, so fire up an email to Smith or Dev, and we will get something on the calendar faster than you can say Chardonnay.
Tasting with Smith and Dev is a choose-your-own-adventure experience. Meeting the people behind the wines means we can get as geeky about the wine as you can imagine, take you through an educational food pairing experience, answer your questions, or simply sip with you and your crew. Plus, you’ll get an inside look into the why of the wine itself – sipping with Smith and Dev is tapping the source of knowledge about the wines we – and soon you – love. But don’t take our word for it… See, smell, taste, experience for yourself. Our favorite thing to do is pour wines for you.
Paying homage to the three founding friends, John Truchard, Steve Smith and Ian Devereux White, the Smith Devereux “3” Red Blend is a powerful, spicy wine with bold flavors of ripe red fruit, dark chocolate and toasty oak. Supple and relaxed, yet bold and earthy, the flavors of this wine are distinctly complex. So complex, in fact, that our very own Steve Smith and Ian Devereux White went head-to-head in a music and food pairing match. Did they agree? Well, you’ll just have to find out…
The tune: The first thought for me is “The Magic Number” by De La Soul. (This choice might not seem obvious unless you know that three is the magic number, a sentiment shared by both Smith and Devereux, harken back to your Schoolhouse Rock days). I must admit, I do at times struggle to land on just one song. Music is always a soundtrack, and while a song may connect you to a moment, it's the collection of songs that drive the story. So, I’ve created a collaborative Spotify playlist, and we encourage you to add songs that are a part of your soundtrack while you enjoy a bottle of our California Red Blend.
The food: This is my BBQ wine. On a warm summer afternoon, my go-to choice is flank steak marinating in whatever I've found around the kitchen. I love flank steak because it’s a perfect canvas for a variety of flavor influences, giving you the freedom to experiment without having to have pizza on speed dial. Here’s how I do it: A few hours before you’re ready to eat, lightly salt the flank steak on both sides to break down the fibrous parts of the meat to help absorb the flavor. Cover in a dry rub of spices around the house or throw the steak in a large ziplock bag with your own wet marinade. Once it’s time to cook. Let the steak sit out until room temperature.
While you're waiting: Drizzle grape tomatoes in olive oil and Sarah's Mediterranean Sea Salt, cover and give it a good shake to create the best summer snack. Throw the flank steak on the grill, grill grates oiled first to get amazing grill marks, and cook each side for about five minutes for medium rare. If you’ve gone with a dry rub, sear the steak in a cast iron pan to create a nice crust before heading to the grill. Sit outside, uncork a bottle of the “3” Red Blend, and enjoy.
The tune: “3” Red Blend is a complex wine, but man is it easy drinking. And while the complexity makes it interesting, much of this wines’ beauty can be found in its approachable simplicity and gentle, sweet vibe. Going to California by Led Zeppelin can be described in exactly the same way. (Notice this song did not make the cut for Steve’s playlist. Who’s going to tell Ian?) The bold flavors of this nuanced wine transport you to the dusty roads and rolling hills of our prized Northern California Vineyards.
The food: BBQ, especially pork loin. This wine is just damn good with any kind of BBQ, but the bold earthiness, chocolate and spice of the Syrah play nicely with the light gaminess of pork loin. The Zinfandel in the blend gives a hint of dust, spice and jam that pairs perfectly with chutney sauce, rosemary flavors, or barbecue sauce. If you choose to pair the “3” with a traditional barbecue sauce, make sure it isn’t too spicy as that can kill the flavors of almost any wine… except the Vacationer Rosé, but that will just have to wait for another time, my friends.
One thing that’s clear – many great things come in threes, and the “3” Red Blend is no exception. Enjoy a bottle, or hey, three, while testing the waters with Smith and Devereux’s music and food recommendations. After that, let us know who you think got it right. Have a song you’d like to share? Don’t forget to add it to Steve’s playlist, and if you have a kick-ass food pairing, comment below and we’ll get it fired up in the test kitchen. Cheers!
Smith vs. Devereux. This is how we’ve decided to share our adventures in the world of wine. Admittedly, a liberal use of the word versus, because this is not a competition. This is a friendly face-off, a medium for us to share our journey with you and include you as our wines evolve. Put simply, we don’t like to talk about ourselves that much (well, sometimes Dev does) and this is our opportunity to do exactly that. We invite you to become a part of our story and we hope to become a become a part of yours. This collaborative effort will culminate each year in a wine club-only release of a very special Smith vs Devereux wine (more on that later).
What’s important to know now? We are two great friends, whose partnership is driven by our shared vision to make great (enter swear word that begins with f here) wine. We are individuals who experience the world through our own eyes, yet complement each other like ice cold rose and a hot day… and a boat… or a beach… anyway. This is where it gets fun, and this is what we are looking to share with you here. Be warned, I think we’re about to transition into a 3rd party narrator yet to be named, so don't be confused and hold onto your hats!
Smith and Dev
The Smith Devereux story all began with a mutual love of music and a seemingly impossible business opportunity that tied music and wine together. Smith and Dev represented opposite parties in the scheme but ultimately had the same goal in this unicorn of an opportunity*. Smith had the background in the music industry. Dev and his good friend John Truchard brought the wine industry expertise and some of the best vineyards and fruit in Napa Valley. It all began backstage at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA, quickly developing a life-long friendship with a plan to conquer the world. Well... the wine world. True world domination may actually be outside of our skill set. We turned this opportunity into reality, and on the heels of this success founded Smith Devereux. *yes, we are being coy about details, it’s more fun that way.
Alongside partner John Anthony Truchard and winemaker Brett Adams, Smith and Dev are making themselves a part of as many stories as possible with world-class wines that should probably cost a whole lot more than they do.
If you’re going to have a face-off, you kinda need a voice to provide judgement, especially in instances where the object is not to determine a winner, just to provide comic relief or educational insight. Plus Smith and Dev have plenty of ego, but do grow weary only talking about themselves, so they hired me to step in where needed. You’ll learn more about who I am and my “resume” later on, for now though, just know I’m here to keep things orderly and help guide this adventure. I’ll oversee the battles behind the bottles, if only as a moderator, referee, unfair side taker (bribes are encouraged), or much-needed comic relief. Nothing’s off limits, from winemaking competitions to label design and best pairings. Maybe we’ll even make them write us a song.
It’s true, every bottle tells a story. But heck, the names on the bottle tell one hell of a tale, too. Looking to see our Smith and Dev go head-to-head? Share your wild ideas with us below. Cheers!