July 2018: The San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley
Smith Story Wine Cellars is a bright and welcome new addition to the California wine landscape — and Anderson Valley is just one place this young wine brand calls home. Husband and wife Eric and Ali Smith Story, who met while working at K&L Wine Merchants in San Francisco, founded their winery in 2013. Today, they make a wide range of wines from Sonoma and Mendocino counties, as well as wines from Germany’s Rheingau. All show balance and freshness.
Clearly, this couple is keeping occupied: In addition to their Philo tasting room, located inside the Madrones complex, they operate a second one in Windsor, in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. On top of that, Eric also runs a wine importing business, focusing on European wines that retail at $20 or less. Smith Story’s own German wines, accordingly, are very well priced, at $20 for a Riesling and a Pinot Noir rosé. Ali is an avid antique hunter with a tasteful eye, and some of her finds are always available for sale in the tasting room here, from jewelry boxes to paintings.
WHAT TO TRY: The Smith Story lineup contains nearly a dozen wines, and they won’t always have everything open. Ideally you’ll try the peachy Sonoma Mountain Semillon ($40), the dry, minerally German Riesling ($20) and, of course, some Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, from the Helluva Vineyard ($40) and the Nash Mill Vineyard ($58).
INSIDE INFO: The couple’s dog, Lord Sandwich, is a major presence in the Smith Story wine brand, and often at the tasting room itself. They produce a nonvintage red blend ($22) called the Lord Sandwich Red Table Wine, donating a pair of socks to someone in need for each bottle sold.
July 2018: The San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley
Drive 10 minutes north to Philo and park at the Madrones complex, where a hotel, a spa, a wood-fired pizza restaurant and some excellent tasting rooms reside. Visit Drew to taste the best Syrah in Mendocino County, then wander over to Smith Story, where you can taste a diverse range of wines that includes Sonoma Semillon and German Riesling. You may walk away from Smith Story with an antique curio; co-owner Ali Smith Story collects and re-sells them here.
July 2018; The San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley
And finally, if for no other reason, stop in at Smith Story Wine Cellars for a single taste (although there are many interesting ones to be had). Smith Story pours wines not only from Anderson Valley but also from Sonoma County and—Germany! Here you can taste a Riesling from the Rheingau (a sipper, but with lovely textures and subtle complexities), for a cool Old World contrast to the local Rieslings.
July 2018: The Press Democrat
The top winner? The five-star rated show stopper –– the Smith Story, 2017 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
The Smith Story is buoyed with bright acidity and infused with notes of lime, lemon and mineral. It’s light on its feet – ballet as opposed to tap.
The vintners, Eric Story and Ali Smith, work with consulting winemaker Katy Wilson, and they said their mission is to craft a mineral-driven sauvignon blanc. The vintners decided they wouldn’t produce a sauvignon blanc unless they found vineyards that were similar in soil/rock and climate to France’s Loire Valley. “If we could drink wines from Dagueneau every day we would,” Alison said. “The late Didier and his son (the current winemaker) have set the bar in our mind, one we hope to achieve one day for the Smith Story, too. Didier Dagueneau was a winemaker in the Loire Valley who produced sauvignon blanc from the Pouilly Fumé appellation and he had a cult following.
Eric, 41, spent 18 years at K&L Wine Merchants in Northern California, with the last eight as the wine buyer for German, Loire, Alsace, Austria and Greek wine imports. He caught the wine bug while backpacking through Europe and took the leap into winemaking in 2002. Ali’s expertise is in hospitality, consumer marketing and national sales. The couple met at K&L and founded Smith Story Wine Cellars in 2013.
While the Smith Story sauvignon blanc will delight veggie burger fans, Ali said there are limitless possibilities in store with the wine.“Our favorite pairing with our sauvignon blanc” Ali said, “is a good conversation, a nice wine glass and a comfy chair.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik
June 2018: Food and Wine Magazine
Smith Story Lakota’s View Sémillon Sonoma Mountain 2016 ($40)
Plenty of Napa and Sonoma wineries source grapes in the Anderson Valley. While producing vibrant Mendo Pinots, the Anderson Valley’s husband-and-wife winemakers Eric Story and Allison Smith-Story also made just 76 cases of this deliciously aromatic Semillon. Its flowery nose opens onto a bittersweet herbaceousness and a rippling, dry finish.
...A two-hour drive northwest from Napa, the Anderson Valley remains blessedly sleepy. Some big names make wine here, including Roederer, which offers an engaging estate tour. But most of the 30 wineries are scrappy operations where vintners blend Old World sensibilities and New World vision into low-intervention, cool-climate wines.
May 2018: Sonoma Magazine
The Multitasker: Alison Smith Story of Smith Story Wine Cellars: Alison Smith Story developed a diverse palate for fine wine while working at K&L Wine Merchants. Never without her trusty Goldendoodle Lord Sandwich by her side, she now operates Smith Story Wine Cellars together with her husband Eric. The boutique winery produces old-world wines in the new world, including pinot noir from the acclaimed Anderson Valley. Smith Story is always on the move: she runs two tasting rooms, one in Anderson Valley and one in Russian River Valley, oversees marketing, and even runs a nonprofit, Socks for Sandwich, which donates new socks to those in need.
April 2018: The San Francisco Examiner
By Lyle W. Norton on April 29, 2018
At its core, Grand Cru Custom Crush is a great idea, one that reflects modern-day business and lifestyle trends. Founded by Robert and Erin Morris and Todd and Erin Gottula, the wine production co-op provides state-of-the-art technology and production equipment as well as individualized tasting rooms to be shared by small, boutique winemakers. The concept itself is clean and efficient and opens doors for producers who work under the premise that “less is better” to pursue their passion and connect with the consumer.
Grand Cru projects that, in 2018, 25,000 cases will be produced by a baker’s dozen local winemakers who are current members.
As we toured the production facilities, Morris and Erin Brooks (Gottula) discussed the attention to detail that would accommodate multiple winemakers and reduce common problems. By providing the best crush equipment, a variety of small fermentation tanks, barrel rooms and an on-site lab, all designed to match the needs of their “target client production,” the Grand Cru Custom Crush plan optimizes success and sustainability. READ FULL ARTICLE
April 2018: Vinous.com, Antonio Galloni
These are the best wines I have tasted from Alison Smith and Eric Story and their consulting winemakers Katy Wilson and Ross Cobb. All of the wines are vibrant and beautifully delineated, not to mention full of personality.
2016 Lakota's View, Sémillon, Sonoma Mountain. $40, 90pts.
Smith Story's 2016 Sémillon Lakota's View is powerful and also quite distinctive, with a good deal of phenolic intensity that gives the wine its distinctive feel. Tangerine, almond, mint and lightly honeyed notes all open up in the glass, but it is the wine's hillside character and structure that stand out most.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County. $25, 93pts.
The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc is fabulous. Rich, layered and also quite structured, the Sauvignon Blanc exudes character. There is so much to like in the 2016. Above all else, Smith Story's Sauvignon Blanc is full of personality. Varietal notes are nicely delineated, but not at all overpowering. Stony and floral notes add brightness throughout.
2015 Chardonnay, Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley. $48, 92pts.
The 2015 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is a powerful, deep wine, and yet picking on the early side keeps the flavors bright. This is a fairly restrained style for Dutton Ranch that balances a good bit of texture while avoiding heaviness. Chamomile, citrus peel and pear notes add complexity.
2015 Pinot Noir, Nash Mill Vineyard, Anderson Valley. $58, 93pts.
The 2015 Pinot Noir Nash Mill Vineyard is fruity, forward and quite delicious, even if it doesn’t have the detail or pedigree of the Thorn Ridge. Bright, red-toned fruit and floral aromatics help shape the wine's lively personality. What a pretty and expressive wine this is.
2015 Pinot Noir, Thorn Ridge Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. $80, 94pts.
The 2015 Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge is gorgeous. Translucent and perfumed, with silky tannins, strikingly fruit and exceptional balance, the Thorn Ridge hits all the right notes. Hints of rose petal, mint, cranberry and white pepper add brightness. This gracious, wonderfully lifted Pinot is long on class and personality. I loved it.
2015 Cabernet Franc, Sonoma Valley. $40, 90pts.
The 2015 Cabernet Franc is done in a fresh, Loire-inspired style that captures notable fruit intensity, but manages to avoid excessive vegetal or green notes. The red-toned berry fruit and lifted, floral notes pulse with energy. There is so much to like here.
2015 Merlot, Pickberry Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain. $54, 93pts.
Deceptively medium in body, the 2015 Merlot Pickberry Vineyard packs a real punch. Succulent dark cherry, tobacco, sage, menthol and lavender notes give the Merlot a very pretty savory profile to match the wine's translucent expression of fruit. Pliant and supple, the 2015 also has a good bit of supporting structure as well. It is another classy, polished wine from Alison Smith and Eric Story.
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Pickberry Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain. $60, 95pts.
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Pickberry Vineyard is a total knock-out. Gracious and light on its feet, with tremendous character, the Pickberry will thrill readers who enjoy old-school California Cabernets. Bright acids and mountain structure from this hillside site on Sonoma Mountain give the wine a palpable sense of energy and savoriness to play off the dark-toned fruit. Scents of lavender, sage, tobacco and menthol linger on the super-expressive finish. What a marvelous wine this is.
April 2018: The Washington Post
Some of the best pours in wine country happen in Industrial Parks (click to read full article)
In California’s Sonoma County, just north of the Santa Rosa airport, Grand Cru Custom Crush is a gleaming new facility in a spare industrial park that includes DuMol and Marcassin wineries, two exclusive labels with avid followings. Russian River Brewing is building a huge facility with a restaurant nearby. Grand Cru has capacity for about 20 wineries; it housed 12 when it opened for the 2017 harvest. They include Black Kite, which produces pinot noir and chardonnay from various coastal vineyards, and Smith Story cellars, a membership winery with a philanthropic bent and an unusual marketing campaign based on a goldendoodle’s Instagram account.
March 2018: Sonoma Magazine
The Smith Story tasting room features comfortable couches and a small area by the bar, as well as a retail space that sells stylish home accessories.
Guests taste through a handful of Anderson Valley wines, which may include pinot noir, rosé, riesling, chardonnay, and the Lord Sandwich Table Red, from which part of proceeds go toward buying socks for those in need. 707-494-5575; 9000 CA 128, Philo. smithstorywinecellars.com
March 2018: Rockin' Red Blog
Smith Story: The Intersection of Love and Wine
I was recently introduced to a winery that I want to shout about from the rooftop. It is about a boutique winery still in its infancy but hitting on all the right marks. When many producers are focused on mass consumption wines that are concentrated, over-oaked, and sweet as syrup, Smith Story Wines is embracing wine making at its finest. Embodied the ideas that if you have the right grapes in the right climate with the right soil nature will make great wine so get out of its way. But there is much to the story of Smith Story....READ FULL ARTICLE
March 2018: James the Wine Guy
- Smith Story Sauvignon Blanc '16 92 Points Episode #2607
- Smith Story Pinot Noir '15 93 Points - Episode #2602
- Smith Story SV Cabernet Franc 2015 93 Points Episode #2606
- Smith Story Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon '15 - 93 Points Episode #2608
February 2018: The Washington Post
Dave McIntyre, Food and Wine Columnist
How an 80-pound goldendoodle helped build a California wine brand.
When Eric Story and Alison Smith-Story started their winery in 2014, they didn’t follow any conventional path. An old saw advises that to make a small fortune in the wine industry, you should start with a large one. That was not an option, so they went the modern way.
“We didn’t have an inheritance, and we hadn’t started and sold a software company,” Alison explains.
So they turned to Kickstarter to create Smith Story Wine Cellars, which now operates out of a custom crush winery in Sonoma County. “We are the first winery we know of to be crowdfunded.”
December 2017: Drink great wine, help others.
Where offices once occupied the front of the compound, there are now tasting rooms for three small-lot family wineries. The newest addition, Smith-Story Wine Cellars, consists of host husband and wife, Eric Story and Allison Smith, and their Golden Doodle, Mr. Sandwich. Eric and Allison were buyers and promoters of other people's wines before they decided to make the move to produce their own. They pour recent releases of their Mendocino and Sonoma County wines alongside a project they produce in the Rheingau region of Germany. They may be the only family-owned winery in the U.S. with a German 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir."
March 2017: Vinous.com
91pts. 2014 Thorn Ridge Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
The 2014 Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge is another super appealing wine from Smith Story. Expressive earthy and floral notes lend aromatic nuance to the juicy red toned flavors. Creamy and expansive on the palate, yet also very much medium in body, the 2014 has terrific overall balance. Hints of orange, game, tobacco and underbrush add the closing shades of nuance. Drinking window: 2017-2024 -- Antonio Galloni
90pts. 2015 Helluva Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
The 2015 Pinot Noir Helluva Vineyard is a very pretty, delicate Anderson Valley Pinot. Expressive aromatics and soft contours give the wine much of its considerable early appeal. Bright red stone fruit, lifted floral notes and a kick of orange zest are all nicely woven together in this attractive, mid-weight Pinot. Drinking window: 2017-2022. - Antonio Galloni.
July 29, 2016 Bon Appetite Magazine:
March 1, 2016 Indulge Magazine.
February 2016 Review by Antonio Galloni,"From 2014 Sonoma and Points North: New Releases, Part 1", www.vinous.com
"These are the first wines I have tasted from Smith Story. Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson make the wines for industry veterans Eric Story and Alison Smith-Story in a style that emphasizes freshness and energy."
Tasting Note: 2014 Smith Story Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, from a site on Sonoma Mountain, is made in a fresh, reductive style that shows the brighter, stonier side of Sauvignon. Even with all of its freshness, the Sauvignon shows plenty of depth and an attractive element of phenolic weight that adds complexity.
Score: 89 Drinking Window: 2016-2018 Release Price: $25
Tasting Note: 2014 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast)
The 2014 Chardonnay is an an attractive, appealing, wine. Orchard fruit, gentle apricot, spice and almond notes meld together in an effortless, gracious white that hits all the right notes. This is a gorgeous Sonoma Coast Chardonnay to drink over the next handful of years.
Score: 91 Drinking Window: 2016-2022 Release Price: $34
Tasting Note: 2014 Pinot Noir Helluva Vineyard
The note finessed side of the Anderson Valley comes through in the 2014 Pinot Noir Helluva Vineyard. Bright, floral and lifted, the 2014 offers lovely understated punch in its bright red fruit. The 2014 was done with fully destemmed fruit, which helps bring the fruit forward.
Score: 93 Drinking Window: 2016-2024 Release Price: $36
Wine of the Day: Grapelive.com
2014 Smith-Story, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County.
The Smith-Story wines are all worthy of searching out and Eric and Alison Story have put together a great lineup of talent behind their wines with the likes of Ross Cobb, formerly of Hirsch and his pal Katy Wilson of La Rue, along with one of Germany’s best and most exciting producers from Ruedesheim in the Rheingau. Cobb and Wilson will really make a huge impact on the California offerings and the 2014 Anderson Valley Pinot is a good insight into how good these wines are going to be in the future. The current lineup includes a lovely pink Pinot Noir rose and dry Riesling from Germany at great prices, plus my favorite their Sonoma Mountain sourced Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc that has the Greystack clone, non musque, which is a delightful and interesting Sauvignon Blanc.
The 2014 Smith-Story Sauvignon Blanc has nice ripe citrus, peach, quince, gooseberry and white cherry layers with a core of lemon/lime and cool summer melon along with a touch of tangy herbs, wet stones and a nervy steeliness. In a world of boring $30 Sauvignon Blancs, the Smith-Story stand above and has an almost Alto-Adige kind of feel and excitement to it, like the Terlano, I was impressed, if you are looking for a good and solid value in dry Sauvignon Blanc this will please you. The 2014’s from Smith-Story are all bargains and offer lots of personality, quality and verve for the money, especially the Sauvignon Blanc. All of them are easy to love and drink now, keep an eye out for them, this is a label to watch. ($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
Summer is almost over, so grab a few more bottles of Rose to toast the end of 100 degree days. Smith Story Rose, from North Texas native Alison Smith Story, who spent a good amount of her career as a wine broker, before getting married to Eric Story, a Bay area wine buyer, and beginning their collaboration in wine, Smith Story Wine Cellars.
Created from a mutual love of each other, great wine, and the celebration of life (with bonus points given if it is in Hawaii.) They launched their brand last year with a handful of varieties from both California as well as importing from an Old World country they both love, Germany, including petrol and white flower filled Riesling and an inviting Rose made from Pinot Noir. Their Smith Story Rheingau Rose of Pinot Noir ($20) is a lovely expression of the variety, and proof that red wine vines can grow in cool Germany. Balanced, fresh and juicy with herbal notes, ripe red berry, red apple, tangerine and crushed stone earthiness.
The duo are also crafting a steely, mineral influenced Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($25) from fruit grown on both Sonoma Mountain and in Knight’s Valley, with the goal to produce a Loire Valley style wine with fruit from California. Floral, fresh and aromatic, the lively wine is a beautiful expression of quality and passion. Two special wines from a very special couple, both available via their website or at Pogo’s.
February 2018: Smith Story Wine Cellars Appoints Springboard Wine Company
April 2017: Smith Story Wine Cellars Opens Tasting Room
May 2014: "Announcing Smith Story Wine Cellars"