I met Ian during an inaugural music series, invited to dinner on Fort Lauderdale Beach to talk about music and wine. I followed his writings and kept in touch through the years. I was excited to support his new venture and recently ordered several bottles of his wine. I’m drawn back to my birthplace, Northern California and follow his adventures. Happy sipping.
Share a bit of background about how your concept came into existence and the story behind the name.
I was a wine writer, contributing to publications ranging from Wine Enthusiast to Psychology Today and sharing an office with a vintner and farmer named John Truchard. During an interview I was asked how long I’d been writing. I replied, with pride; “about 8 years”. To which the person I was interviewing said “dang, 8 years just telling other people’s stories”. I was a bit taken aback but I was immediately motivated. Within a week Truchard and I had shaken hands on a deal to make a wine, vineyard to bottle, with grapes he farmed. We wanted to start small, but a chance meeting with celebrated musician Mat Kearney took us down a wild and unexpected path and we found ourselves making 4000 cases of a wonderful red blend with Mat, for Whole Foods, and traveling the country together supporting the wine and being one of the first making wines with celebrities and musicians. Steve Smith, a music industry veteran and Mat’s Manager, joined our team during the process (he was the only person my wife ever let stay in the guest room no questions asked, so I knew he was special}. And working with him on the Kearney deal I knew we’d make great partners. We’ve been called the anchor and the balloon (I’m the balloon). We still make a wine with Mat and some of our other favorite artists like Brett Dennen, most of them give back to causes like the fight against cancer, but our focus is now on making wines with our names on them. Smith Devereux.
What’s the wine trend that’s going to move us forward in 2020?
More blends and affordable wines. People want to buy things they can drink right away or save but don’t HAVE to wait to drink. Life is too short for that! And priced in a way that they can justify spending the money on… you can buy a wonderful bottle of craft whiskey for $100 and serve it for months. Or craft beer for $10 a bottle or pint. Why spend $100+ on a bottle of wine that will be finished in hours or days of opening and is likely no better than a $50 bottle. And blends because they’re awesome! Single vineyard wines and single varietal wines are filled with art and very rare and difficult to make. We make a couple for our wine club and we’re darn proud of them. But they’re like painting in one color, even in a single shade. Making a blend is like painting with every color in the rainbow… or at least every shade of red.
What trend excites you most about today’s craft scene?
Spirits actually, specifically Brandy!!! I think it’s time for brandy to make a comeback and am making one with our partner Napa Valley Distillery that was aged in our Single Vineyard Merlot Barrel (after 9 years in port and bourbon barrels) and its awesome. In terms of wine, I think small production wines that are 500 cases or fewer, accessible in flavors, and made by small producers that people can actually interact with are what people are going to want. They want to be a part of the story, and have something rare and special without spending a ton of money or waiting on a list or being talked down to.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Starting a winery with almost no money!
Who are your role models or mentors?
My dad, my mom, my stepdad, John Truchard, the people behind the V Foundation and the Humanitarian Awards; and anyone that’s dedicated to making the world a better place one day at a time and one moment at a time. Can’t wait to make a positive difference, have to do it every day. Oh, and Jimmy Page.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Incredible insight into being happy and living in the moment and being your best self. Pretty much put an end to anxiety for me… and I’m not a self helpy kinda guy. Spiritual yes, but I live by logic and numbers and music and math.
What does success look like for you?
Making the world a better place, or creating a positive force, every single day. Being a good person and a good husband and a good father. Always being honest, kind, loving, generous, grateful and humble. My hope is that financial and business success will follow if I continue to live that way.
What is your essential bar accessory ?
Seriously? Cork screw!
Known for …
Limited production wines made from vine to bottle that are rich, luscious, complex, ready to drink and not that expensive. And for being easily accessible to our wine club members… and maybe for building a recording studio in our tasting room. And boxing teaching boxing… and maybe for playing guitar. I dunno. Guess it depends on who you ask. Mostly I’d just like to be known as someone that is generous and kind.
This time next year you’ll be drinking …
The brandy we’re bottling later this year for our wine club!
Ian Devereux White, Founder | Vintner, Napa CA www.smithdevereux.com
My selection of Smith Devereux Wines
- Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
- No. 3 California Red Blend
- Verse & Chorus Red Blend
- Dresden Cabernet Sauvignon
- Verse & Chorus Cabernet Sauvignon