Napa 2020 wines that avoided smoke taint

Was curious if anyone has come across wineries that made a 2020 that don’t have smoke taint. Understanding the vast majority dropped or sold the fruit, I’m seeing a few push with a 2020 cab sauv release. Some comments have been that they harvested early and didn’t have any smoke contamination.

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I tasted some 2020 Myriad and Quivet wines and not only detected 0 smoke taint, but thought the quality was more or less consistent with other vintages. The only exception, in my opinion, was the 2020 Myriad Napa Valley, which wasn’t as good as I’d expect/hope, but didn’t show any signs of taint to me.


Thanks J,

In speaking with Andy at DuMOL, they harvested very early in 2020, and were in barrel before the fire. Granted they’re north west of the Napa Valley.

Almost everyone into wine I know is universally staying away from the 2020 vintage. I’m somewhat interested to see if 2020 ends up being a decent vintage for those that didn’t get contaminated and perhaps some deals are available.


Some of the very best wine producers in Napa (who IMO are among the top wine producers in the world) are releasing 2020 Cabs. Esther Mobley of the SF Chronicle published an excellent write up on this issue about 2-3 weeks ago. The producers releasing 2020s include Harlan Estate, Promontory, MacDonald, Memento Mori, Spottswoode, and Myriad Cellars. I’ve tasted a sample of the 2020 Promontory out of the cask, and it was terrific.


Curious how you arrived at “the vast majority” not releasing their wines.


I know Corison picked early (as she always does) and avoided the fires altogether. Won’t get a shot at the vintage until later this fall, but the season looked great until the fires, so any of the “old school” style producers (Spottswoode certainly in that group too) should have a solid vintage on their hands.


You’re right, “vast majority” is sloppy wording. Poor word choice on my part.

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Spottswoode picked prior to the fire (the day before), I also tasted Dalla Valle from Barrel and it showed no notes of Smoke Taint. I will be in Napa in a few weeks for PNV, and so will taste a 150+ samples of 2021, however will also taste some 2020 from my producers I represent so will report back


Very cool Alex, looking forward to it.

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will also put up a full report on the 2021s as well :slight_smile:


You probably have this posted somewhere and I’m just missing it, but when you wrote “producers I represent” I wondered whom you work for and what producers you work with?


I try not to publicize who I work with, since I don’t want to see as though I am promoting these wineries on here. But since you asked…

I am a promotional agent in Quebec, Canada (tiny market for Premium Californian wineries) . I work with Spottswoode, Dalla Valle, Groth, Faust, Dana Estates, Three Sticks, Dutton Goldfield and Bevan Cellars as well as a few others on a smaller scale. The event in February is a special auction lot of special 2021 wines which is open to trade only. I will probably be the only person from Canada at the event. No one else from Quebec will attend. I also will go to a few other wineries which I don’t represent, but I hold a lot of respect for, such as Rivers-Marie and Favia. I plan to post a full trip report on here shortly after, hopefully to give the community my thoughts. I am also quite honest with my reviews which may or mayn’t be a good thing. I don’t plan to just give 100 points to all my wineries then 80 points to everyone else…haha. I should be able to taste a good amount of 2020 as well.


I appreciate the detailed response, Alexander, and look forward to reading the notes from your trip. Enjoy PNV!


If the prices are similar - why not just buy 18 and 19?


The Esther Mobley article appears to be behind a paywall …

I’m curious about what she said about MacDonald. When we visited in the summer of 2021, we were told there’s substantially less 2020 due to fears of smoke taint. Given the significantly smaller quantity it wasn’t clear if or how it would be released. Does Esther, or you, have any updated info?

Scott, I am pasting a link to Esther’s article that I’m told is supposed to be a paywall-free link:

Esther doesn’t interview or quote either Alex or Graeme in the article, but she does interview Cory Empting, Sam Kaplan, Jean Hoefliger, and Helene Mingot, among others. The article includes a list of 36 Napa wineries/producers releasing 2020 Cabernet Sauvignons, including MacDonald, and I know of several other producers not on the list who are releasing 2020 Napa Valley Reds.

When I visited with Alex MacDonald this past April, he told me their production volume of their 2020 Cabernet will be lower because they were extra-selective in deciding what grapes would go into their Cabernet. I believe the 2020 wine will be fully allocated to their mailing list, as virtually all of their prior releases have been so allocated.