It’s that time of year! Pass the ‘nog and light the tree— we’re going all in on our favorite festivities and most memorable holiday traditions.
It’s that time of year! Pass the ‘nog and light the tree— we’re going all in on our favorite festivities and most memorable holiday traditions.
There are three essential Smith family holiday traditions once we get back together. But before the traditions begin, the official start to our family celebration is a non-stop barrage of emails and texts amongst the family to get their Christmas lists shared. The inevitable result is a thoughtful list from my mom, a list of my dad's wishes made by my mom to which he has no knowledge of, another thoughtful list from my sister-in-law that covers her and my nephew, then silence from my brother and me.
Once we all gather back in Ohio, we kick things off with a trip to Rudy's Hot Dog. This is not your fancified Chicago dog, this is a masterwork of a chili sauce on top of a steam dog and bun. This is 5-star cafeteria quality. Forget Tony Packo's, as Klinger in M.A.S.H. so often spoke of, Rudy's is the true destination in Toledo. Three chili dogs, fries and a Hawaiian Punch would be my last meal on earth if ever that is a decision I have to make. Too many memories tied to Rudy's to account here.
Christmas Eve, we make the drive up to Chelsea, MI to my brother's house. The evening includes a trip to church, shrimp cocktail with a constant tweaking of the cocktail sauce, my mom's legendary potato soup and, of course, some good wine ‘n’ whiskey. Charismatic Fool kicks off the night, then we dive into Ibex as well as wines from our favorite producers such as Sanguis, Aonair and Tres Sabores. The night always ends with frantic present wrapping and board games or a puzzle that will take us into the wee hours of the morning. It's amazing we've never seen Santa.
Christmas Day is all about Milo (my nephew who painted Vivrant Thing). Coffee and present opening leads us to late morning naps, then a drive back to Ohio to my Godmother's home where I've spent every Christmas Day since I was born. Nearly 40 of us gather to open more wine, laugh even harder and take in all the past year has been. This crew also comprises the 4th tradition I've somehow forgotten, which is our yearly day of gaming. We split into teams and battle in some sort of competition (bowling, football, indoor Olympics, etc). Think of this as the Festivus Feats of Strength with more injuries as we all forget how old we really are.
Family is everything to Ian and me. I know he values his traditions as much as I do and also enjoys their evolution. I'm looking forward to seeing what new traditions enter my life as I share it with my girlfriend... oh I mean fiancée. Yeah, I'm bragging because she's worth bragging about. :)
The traditions around the Devereux house have changed a great deal in the past few years with the birth of my first son Benjamin and second son Sonny. In the past, we would all get gussied up on Christmas Eve and head to San Francisco to a restaurant my mom (Lynne Devereux, love ya Ma!) chose. She is a chef and has owned restaurants in the past and always knew the hottest, hippest place to go. We’d enjoy the finest wines with dinner and walk around Union Square checking out the Holiday windows and the massive tree in the center of it all.
These days our tradition has shifted to Christmas morning, and that’s all about this fantastic electric train and whatever wonderful gift Santa puts in the center. Could be a 6-foot stuffed giraffe, or a Lego set that will take us the rest of the Holiday week to build. Whatever it is, it has to fit within the train tracks. Benjamin loves it (he’s 4) and I’m sure Sonny (6 months) will love it soon too. This is followed by a few more gifts, although we don’t do a lot of gifting— it’s more about time together, lots of Charismatic Fool Rosé and endless eating. Dinner that night will be paired with the Smith Devereux wine lineup along with wines made by others we know and love like John Anthony, Fantesca, School House and Peju.
The following day, we’ll pack up for Tahoe and head up to the snow for a week of wine, food, games, snowmen, snowboarding, skiing, ice skating and family relaxation. My parents, brother and sister all join in the on the festivities, and sometimes friends join for a day or two, sleeping in spare rooms or on blowup beds near the fire.
Happy Holidays from our families to yours! We’d love to hear all about your family traditions over a glass of wine or a lego building competition— just let us know when and where. Cheers!
Smith vs. Devereux is a highly limited bottling of two handcrafted wines celebrating our Ibex Vineyard Merlot. What exactly does that mean? Steve and I wanted to create a project that played off our individual personalities, creating a little friendly competition. Something that we could build separately, but together, would create a story that ties into the rest of our Smith Devereux releases. We each snagged a barrel of Merlot from our IBEX vineyard at Davidson Ranch, and went to work with our winemaker Brett Adams.
To keep things true to the nature of the project and to heighten the competitive fun, all of this was done in the dark; no idea what the other was doing, and with a blind faith that the bottles would look damn good side by side in a Smith Devereux branded wood box. Only 25 cases exist of Smith vs Devereux, this is not a wine to sleep on.
Welcome to the debut release of Smith vs. Devereux: Project One. May the best Devereux win! Wait… is it really even a contest? Ah, hell with it… I stand by my statement. - Dev
Let’s start here: I love A Tribe Called Quest. Vivrant Thing as a name references one of my favorite song titles ever, a solo track from Q-Tip. The made-up word Vivrant* has always spoken to me and is the perfect word to describe our Ibex Merlot. Working with my favorite designer, Steve Paterson, we decided to have my 8-year-old nephew paint the label in reference to the classic Tribe record The Low End Theory. Behind Milo’s painting is a collection of my favorite verses from Phife Dawg (RIP) with a twist if you can find it.
* A word coined by the MC Q-Tip that is a cross between vibrant (Pulsing or throbbing with energy or activity) and vivacious (Full of animation and spirit; lively). Thanks, Urban Dictionary.
The blend in Vivrant Thing is inspired by Q-Tip’s production style. Always a true respect for the classics with a fresh perspective and a heavy dose of fun. Collaboration was the standard in the late 80s, early 90s hip-hop, so I reached out to my good friend Grant Long, to source some of his mountain Cabernet as the featured guest artist in this blend. Along with our full-bodied St. Helena Merlot and a splash of Petite Verdot, I think we’ve made a wine that honors its name and will do so for years to come.
This label is a painting by my friend, Aiden Kringen. The original is hanging in my favorite room (the music room) because I love the geometry, depth, beauty, mystery, and color. It inspires me to find beauty and balance in all things. I hope that this bottle will do the same for you.
Working with Brett Adams and the grapes from a nearby, but secret, Napa Valley, Coombsville AVA source, I chose a blend that would be powerful and rich, silky…yet… a touch unrefined. Tame and easy to drink, but still wild and rambunctious — a wine worthy of the time and patience it may need to mature to its full potential. Drink this wine now because it has structure, grace, and complexity. Save it because it will mellow into divine layers of sultry deliciousness.
Music has always played a major role in both our lives, so it’s no surprise we both ended up with a music-related label. The Smith vs. Devereux project is coming this winter and will be available as a two-pack in a custom Smith Devereux wooden box. We can’t wait to share it with you.
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!