Napa Valley AVA
"We wanted our winery to signify boldness and American standards..."
There aren’t many professional musicians who would leave the music scene and venture into the wine industry, but Smith Devereux Winery co-founder Ian Devereux White is definitely the exception to the norm. One minor point, however: White still plays with his band High Noon while fulfilling his role as the main mover of the Napa Valley-based producer of ultra-premium varietals.
Smith Devereux (formerly J.W. Thomas Wines) is the compilation of more than 60 years of winery experience brought together by its three owners. In addition to White, Steve Smith and John Truchard share the ownership of Smith Devereux. Smith is another former music industry veteran, while Truchard is the son of iconic Carneros growers and vintners Tony and JoAnn Truchard.
“I grew up in the Bay Area,” offered Ian White, “and I always accompanied my parents up to Napa Valley for wine tastings. I guess it was a big part in my growing up and most certainly aided my appreciation for wines and winemaking. At one point, I met this marvelous girl from Napa Valley and we eventually got married. That cemented in my mind the fact that I was definitely intended to be in the wine business.”
White and Smith got together when Smith was a partner in J.W. Thomas Wines and found mutual interest in wine and music. Then, Ian White found out that John Truchard had several wine brands with which he was involved and was also farming some 50 different vineyards. He learned that Truchard had some excess grapes to sell, and indicated an immediate interest. Rather than merely selling the grapes to White, Truchard suggested a partnership that ultimately led to Smith Devereux Winery.
The winery name Smith Devereux developed from a desire to express a twofold purpose for the new entity. “We wanted our winery to signify boldness and American standards, so what was more common than Smith?” explained White. “My middle name, Devereux, is French, and the concept of Smith Devereux seemed to reflect the right mettle. It made us solid and sexy at the same time.”
The company’s first release of a red blend in 2012 was an instant success and has propelled Smith Devereux to the ranks of elite Napa Valley wineries. Still, Ian White and his partners have kept their feet close to the ground. Smith Devereux initially bought fruit from Oregon and sold the resulting wines, but no longer follows that path. It is now completely of California origin.
“We intend for our wines to be drunk, not stored,” the exuberant 37-year-old informed. “We are by no means exclusionary. We intended to produce a reasonably priced Cabernet Sauvignon that was totally crowd pleasing. This year, we will produce around 6,500 cases with even more to follow in the future.”
The group share offices and have a plan in mind to increase the Smith Devereux Wines brand to around 15,000 cases sometime during the next three years. “Right now, this continues to be a passion project for all of us,” White continued with a grin. “If we can get our volume up to that level, we might actually be able to pay ourselves.”
Such is the case with most startup wineries with no big bankroll to see them through the hard times that generally inhibit their growth. Smith Devereux Winery is further ahead of its competitors due to the industry savvy of its ownership group and the fact that John Truchard is among the best producers of prime grapes in the entire Napa Valley area.
As mentioned above, Ian White continues to maintain his relationship with music. The company’s tasting facility on 1st Street in Napa City is called Jam Cellars and is also a fully functional recording studio. His forte on the guitar is “a blend of R & R with a southern twang. It is really high energy music, similar to the wines we produce that give great oomph to the palate.”
It is obvious to even the casual observer that Smith Devereux Wines and its owners are having a ball while their still embryonic project reaches fruition. The wine industry accolades and awards have given the company a huge lift that seems to have increased with time.
Smith Devereux Wines’ continued success and its steps up the proverbial ladder will bear watching for years to come. New and exciting wineries and their progression are what makes the California wine industry the darling of the international wine world.
It is a great pleasure to introduce our Platinum Wine Club members to Smith Devereux Winery. Enjoy!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum WIne Club Members,
First, thank you for including my wines in the Gold Medal Wine Club. Always an honor and pleasure to work with y’all and to connect with your members. To all reading this, I’d love to host you for a complimentary vineyard tasting or tour, so please reach out to me personally if you’re coming to Napa Valley ([email protected]).
The things that I love most about our Cabernet is that it’s bold and complex like other iconic Napa Valley Cabernets, but it’s not a kick-you-in-the-teeth, wait-for-10-years-to-drink kind of wine. From vineyard to bottle, we stay focused on balance and approachability. We maintain a light touch on winemaking, use the finest new and neutral French Oak for fewer months than most others, and our period of maceration (skin contact with the juice after crush) is half of the Valley average. I think this allows the unique flavors from our 25 year-old, clone 6 Cabernet vines to shine and for y’all to be able to taste the differences mother nature provides year after year. This light touch style yields a rich, silky, spicy Cabernet that’s as balanced as it is nuanced.
Pair this wine with steak and BBQ and all kinds of meats, but don’t be afraid to match it up with vegetable medleys, fish with red sauces, Mediterranean dishes, pasta, and just about anything with a red sauce. My mom is a chef and I’ve learned a lot from her, so feel free to reach out to me with any questions or suggestions about pairings, or anything else.
We farm sustainably, use light glass, avoid frills like capsules, and do everything we possibly can from vine to bottle to honor the environment and you. We use no animal products (yup, the wine is vegan) and focus on organic vineyard compounds to enhance health and growth in the vineyards without hurting the planet.
Thank you all for your kindness and support and I hope to see you in Napa!
Founder and Vintner, Smith Devereux Winery
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
My name is Ian Devereux White and I am the co-founder (along with my partners, Steve Smith and John Truchard) of Smith Devereux Wines. It is an honor to be featured by the Gold Medal Wine Club, who have been working with my family for more than 20 years. While our wines have gotten more than our fair share of high scores and Gold Medals, we strongly believe that it is the faith and commitment of our customers and extremely high-end wine clubs like this one, that are the true measure of a winery.
We are meticulous farmers with more than 60 years of combined winemaking experience in our families, and are very proud to bring you wines that could be priced at exclusionary levels due to their quality and scarcity. But that’s not who we are; we want everyone to be able to enjoy these rare, wonderful, sustainably-farmed wines.
Our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a Limited Release, which means there are only 600 cases in existence, and comes from two of the most heralded and coveted vineyard locations in Napa Valley: Diamond Mountain and Howell Mountain. The blend is almost exactly 50% from each vineyard, which oppose each other almost exactly in the Valley. What this means is that half of the fruit gets morning sun and ripens slowly, while the other half is baked in the afternoon sun and ripens quickly. Blended together, you have the perfect balance of vineyards and fruit, aged in toasty French oak, which yields what we think is the perfect 100% Napa Valley Cabernet. Best news of all? You can cellar it and it will age beautifully, or drink it right now as it’s about as good as it gets.
Ian Devereux White
Smith Devereux Wines