2024 Honorary Winery

In 2024, the vinNEBRASKA Foundation Board is honored to recognize and thank our long-time friend, auctioneer, and phenomenal wine maker

Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone

Stu has been involved with vinNEBRASKA since the very inception of our event, bringing his amazing wines and graciously leading our auction each year. 

Be sure you shake this man’s hand and thank him for his commitment to our organization and the amazing charities we work with each year!

Smith-Madrone is one of Napa Valley’s pioneer estates. It was founded in 1971 by Stuart [and Charles] Smith. In many ways, Smith-Madrone is a throwback to an era before wineries resembled Tuscan villas, before cult Cabernets cost $500-plus a bottle. Stu and his brother Charlie are proudly old school in their winemaking philosophy, the age-worthy, balanced wines they make, the reasonable prices they charge, and the homely way they welcome visitors. The winery is the tasting room. The guides are the Smith brothers, or Stu’s son Sam, who is now assistant winemaker. What makes Smith-Madrone so compelling is its authenticity in a glitzy place devoted to image maintenance. After nearly 50 years, this is still a small estate winery whose reds and whites reflect the beliefs of two men who don’t tone down their opinions, whether controversial or not. Though respected, the Chardonnay, Riesling, and two Cabernets rarely make trophy lists and have never grabbed as much attention as they should.

-Excerpted from article in Decanter magazine.

On May 14, 2021 Smith-Madrone launched a year of 50th anniversary celebrations. It was on May 14, 1971 that founder Stuart Smith signed the paperwork to close on the purchase of 200 forested acres on top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley.

“It was in the fall of 1970 that I first walked the dense forested property that would become Smith-Madrone,” Stu Smith explains. All that remained of the original vineyard planted in the 1880s were small redwood grape stakes and a towering allée of olive trees competing for sunlight with the 100-foot tall Douglas fir trees.

“The wine industry has seen many changes in the 50 years since we carved Smith-Madrone out of the forested mountain top. Napa Valley wine has evolved from a small provincial business, second in economic importance behind livestock, to an industry of worldwide pre-eminence. While there have been many technological advances in both viticulture and enology, the fundamental of great wine remain the same: climate, soil, site and a sound understanding of science,”

history of the honorary winery

Since 2008, the vinNEBRASKA Foundation Board has selected an Honorary Winery from among that year’s participants. We view this first and foremost as an act of gratitude for the generosity which that producer has shown over time to our important work as a charity here in Nebraska. We deeply appreciate every winery and every guest that attends our event each year, and we eagerly acknowledge the long-term contributions of those who return on an annual basis.
Past Honorary Wineries include Smith-Madrone (2008 & 2021), Goosecross Cellars (2009), Mill Creek Vineyards (2010), Silver Oak Cellars (2011), Heitz Cellars (2012), Flora Springs Winery (2013), Trentadue (2014), Michael David Vineyards (2015), Cline (2016), Quady (2017), Fourth Estate Wines (2018), Rombauer Vineyards (2019), DeLille Cellars (2022), Seghesio Family Vineyards (2023). There was no event held in 2020.

Interested in participating as a vintner at our next big event?