The following is the introduction to an article I penned for Club Oenologique, a fantastic new online magazine out of the UK focused on luxury wine.
Saturday, 26 September was the last ordinary day for Napa vintner Jeff Smith. He spent it as he often does, hosting visitors at his winery that nestles into the hills on the east side of Napa Valley.
Smith’s Hourglass Winery, just north of St Helena, features a set of caves carved into the hillside and a unique, outdoor winery, topped by an elegant half-roof cantilevered above the cellar door. Out front, the estate’s Blueline Vineyard surrounds a diminutive farmhouse built in 1858, a relic of Napa’s agrarian past.
After visits to the Napa winery, Smith often hosts dinners for guests at the farmhouse, as he did – albeit with social distancing protocols – on that fateful Saturday night.
“It had gotten pretty late as we cleaned up,” says Smith. “So instead of driving home we decided to spend the night. In retrospect, it was good to have one last night there.”
At 4:10 the next morning, Smith’s life, like so many lives in Napa Valley, would change forever as the Glass Fire tore down the hillsides of the Vaca Mountains into the heart of upper Napa Valley.
Image of Viader Vineyards in the wake of the Glass Fire courtesy of Alan Viader.