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This story originally appeared in Wine Industry Network. Since purchasing his vineyard at the top of Spring Mountain in 1970 and founding Smith-Madrone in 1971, Stuart Smith has become the leading voice of the hillside grower. While Smith believed that the best grapes come from the mountains, a hypothesis had been written that vineyards on hillsides are detrimental to the land. In response, Smith began arguing in favor of hillside vineyards and land-use issues. Being the leading voice was “thrust upon me,” Smith shared. “It was not my intent. When I first got a permit to log the property from Department of Forestry, I was warned that there would be protesters once I brought out a chainsaw.” Stuart Smith was born and raised in Santa Monica, California and moved to Berkeley in the 1960s for his undergraduate studies. It was at Berkeley that he realized that he liked wine more than beer, atypical for a college student. He became friends with people from the Napa Valley and over several years became enamored with wine and the Napa area. The seeds of his passion had been planted.
This story originally appeared in Wine Industry Network. Those around him will say that David Parrish is not one to brag about his accomplishments, but they are the first to call David Parrish an innovator in the wine industry. “David lives to work. The industry is his passion. He is always trying to perfect something or get that one thing a little bit better,” explained long-time friend and business colleague Charlie Castro. “David always stays ahead of the curve.” David Parrish is always one step ahead. He owns vineyards in Paso Robles. He is a winemaker. He is a trellis designer. He has developed a shade cloth. He holds more than 20 patents. “He is constantly moving and shaking, coming up with ideas for a new adaption. He has woken up from dreams with new trellis ideas. Who dreams about inventions?” marveled his daughter Cecily Parrish Ray.
This story originally appeared in Wine Industry Advisor. Across the entire wine industry, there are significant challenges, stated Robert McMillan, executive vice president and founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division at the recent forum of Santa Barbara’s wine industry. Premiumization is the dominant trend, but continuing consolidation of distribution is significantly limiting wineries access to consumers. To address this issue, McMillan stressed the need for direct-to-consumer sales. While direct sales are not necessarily more profitable than through wholesalers, explained McMillan, “it is more about necessity.” However, direct to consumer sales have their own constraints and require an investment in hospitality to attract consumers and make the emotional connection. “In the past year, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of regulations gone haywire. They are frustrating family winery owners across the country, increasing the cost of doing business and reaching the point where some of the regulations will put family-run wineries out of business. The problem can’t be ignored, and it’s not going away by itself.” McMillan wrote in his State of the Wine Industry 2017 report (p55).