Saxum Vineyards

Justin Smith, Photo by Lawrence K. Ho for LATimes

Country of Origin: USA
Location: Willow Creek District, Paso Robles
People: Justin & Heather Smith, Owner | Justin Smith, Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic


Saxum Vineyards 2015 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles Login WA 97+ AG 95 JD 94-96 JD 97 Please inquire
Saxum Vineyards 2016 G2 Vineyard, Paso Robles Login JD 99 WS 93 Please inquire
Saxum Vineyards 2016 James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles Login JD 100 WS 97 Please inquire
Saxum Vineyards 2015 Paderewski Vineyard, Paso Robles Login WA 97 JD 95-97 AG 95 JD 97+ Please inquire

Social Media
Saxum Facebook
Instagram: @saxumvineyards

Media Links
The Orange County Register: Paso Robles' Saxum Digs Deep in Quest for Quality
Wine Spectator: Featured Winemaker: Justin Smith of Saxum
Wine Justin Smith to be Honored as the 2013 Paso Robles Wine Industry Person of the Year
Stolpman Vineyard Wine Journal: Research Trip: Justin Smith of Saxum
Wine-Searcher: Saxum's Justin Smith Keeps Paso Robles Cool
Alister & Paine: 2010 James Berry from Saxum Vineyards
A Long Pour: The Princes of West Paso {Matt Trevisan & Justin Smith}
A Long Pour: Saxum {Deeper Roots}

Justin Smith is one of Paso Robles’ superstars. His Saxum wines have achieved great fame and amassed a cult following.

Saxum Vineyards is focused on producing Rhone inspired red blends from the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. Production is kept to 4,000-5,000 cases a year divided between seven different cuvees: Broken Stones, James Berry Vineyard, Bone Rock, Booker Vineyards, Paderewski Vineyard, Heart Stone Vineyard and Terry Hoage Vineyard. Most of the cuvees are sourced from Justin’s estate James Berry Vineyard. The James Berry Vineyard is an exceptional hillside site planted in pure white limestone and fossilized shells; it is a site that provides extraordinary richness, minerality, precision, and individuality. It is located 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean with an average elevation of 1,200 feet. The cooling ocean breezes help the grapes maintain acidity. Rocket Block, Bone Rock, Broken Stones and James Berry Vineyard wines all come from this site. The Heart Stone Vineyard is a separate vineyard within the estate.

Justin Smith farms all of his vineyards with organic principles. He does not use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Irrigation is rarely needed as his vines’ roots penetrate deeply through the soil. Everything is done by hand, and yields are kept naturally low from the rock soils and extensive thinning. In the cellar, Justin takes a minimalist approach. Saxum’s wines are never racked off their lees and are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Vinous 11/2017
"Justin Smith, whose wines have probably brought more attention to Paso Robles than any others, is also one of the most respected growers in the region. The vineyards he farms, both his own and those of a handful of selected clients, are well worth visiting if one can finagle an appointment. The key to success in a hot dry year like 2015, and in every vintage in the area, he says, “is to be willing to drop fruit that’s raisined and suck up the loss, even when it’s a short year.” Smith’s 2015s were standouts in my tastings during my July visit and also back in the office in October, when I had the chance to re-visit those wines which were still awaiting bottling in the summer. They’re going to be long-lived wines based on their sheer concentration, I’m sure, and if you can’t resist trying them now by all means give them a lot of air!"

Wine Advocate 8/30/2016
"One of the superstars in California is undoubtedly the humble, soft spoken, yet incredibly talented Justin Smith, who has had the reins at Saxum since 2000. And while a lot of winemakers would have been content to stick with the tried and true at this point, Smith continues to question, experiment and fine tune everything he does. Today, his wines are much more finesse oriented, pure and graceful than in the past, without sacrificing texture, concentration or richness. In short, these wines kick ass and shouldn't be missed by any serious wine lover out there!"

Vinous 9/2016
"Justin Smith has just begun settling into his new, expansive cellar, a series of connected tunnels burrowed out of the hill beneath his old winery and home that is equipped with a variety of concrete and wooden vats and barrels of varying sizes. Smith told me that he's now able to adapt his winemaking to whatever conditions nature hands him. Unsurprisingly, this was one of the finest sets of wines that I tasted during my trip this summer. A look through barrels and tanks of Smith's soon-to-be-bottled 2014s and infant 2015s indicated that Saxum's winning streak shows no sign of letting up. Too bad that there simply won't be much wine to go around. Incidentally, while these will never be inexpensive wines, I find that prices are extremely fair given the sheer quality of the wines, and the fact that they are among California's most sought-after bottlings."

Wine Advocate 8/27/2015
Needing no introduction for anyone that’s followed the Wine Advocate or the wine scene in Paso Robles for any time in the past decade, Heather and Justin Smith’s Saxum Vineyards continues to fashion sensational, world-class wines from a number of top sites on the west side of Paso Robles.

Vinous 7/2014
"Every region has its leaders, Justin Smith has been at the forefront in Paso for a number of years. In addition to his own vineyards and wines, first Linne Calodo and now at Saxum, Smith has played a pivotal role in developing Booker, Terry Hoage, Epoch and other properties in the area. Smith has also taken some of Paso's younger winemakers under his wine. Even with all of the accolades he has rightly received, Justin Smith remains one of the most down-to-earth, easygoing people you will ever meet, and that is as important an achievement as anything else."

Wine Advocate 8/2013
"Proprietor Justin Smith continues to fashion some of the most distinctive and impressive efforts coming out of California today and despite an ever increasing level of notoriety and well deserved praise, he remains incredibly humble and down to earth. While the cooler nature of the 2010 and 2011 vintages show in the wine, there’s been a trend here to pull back slightly on the ripeness and oak regime, with an increasing reliance on concrete, whole cluster and larger format barrels. These cooler vintages have also favored the Syrah heavy blends in the lineup, with the Broken Stones, Booker and Bone Rock showing an added dimension. Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong here and this is one mailing list you do not want to miss!"


  • Saxum 2015 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 97+ (9/1/2017)

    The 2015 Broken Stones displays a deep garnet-purple color and nose of freshly crushed black cherries and blueberries with touches of fertile loam, garrigue, mossy bark and rare beef. Full-bodied with wonderful vitality and purity, it has a firm backbone of grainy tannins and a very long, pepper-laced finish.
  • Saxum 2015 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Rating: 95 (11/1/2017)

    A flamboyantly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe black and blue fruits, vanilla, cured tobacco and incense, with a smoky mineral quality adding energetic lift. Palate-staining blueberry and cassis liqueur and fruitcake flavors deepen with air while maintaining impressive vibrancy and focus. Shows a velvety texture and becomes spicier on the urgent, spice-driven finish, which is framed by smooth, slow-building tannins.
  • Saxum 2015 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 94-96 (8/10/2017)

    Brought up mostly in barrels (75% new French oak), with some in concrete, the 2015 Broken Stones is another seamless, seriously impressive wine. Blackberry, white pepper, spice and violets all emerge from this silky, full-bodied beauty that has tons of class. It will be the last year where the blend is more Grenache and Mourvèdre heavy, and in 2016, it's going back to a Syrah dominated cuvée.
  • Saxum 2015 Paderewski Vineyard, Paso Robles
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 97 (9/1/2017)

    The 2015 Paderewski Vineyard has a deep garnet-purple color and notes of red roses, warm cranberries and blackberries with hints of mulberries, garrigue, moss and dusty earth. Full-bodied, with a lovely fragrant earth and savorylaced palate with firm, grippy tannins and loads of mineral nuances on the long finish.
  • Saxum 2015 Paderewski Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 95-97 (8/10/2017)

    The 2015 Paderewski Vineyard was tasted as a final blend and is a more Mourvèdre dominated blend that includes 46% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah, 14% Petite Sirah and the balance Zinfandel. This is the warmest vineyard they work with and it offers terrific notes of plums, violets, hoisin sauce and spice notes. Rich, beautifully textured, with fine, elegant tannin, it's a seamless and long.
  • Saxum 2015 Paderewski Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Rating: 95 (11/1/2017)

    Ripe red and blue fruits, incense and candied flowers on the intensely perfumed, spice- and mineral-accented nose. Velvety in texture and alluringly sweet, offering intense raspberry, blueberry, violet pastille and spice cake flavors that put on weight with air while maintaining vivacity. Shows outstanding energy and sweet, red fruit thrust on the impressively persistent, floral-tinged finish, which is shaped by smooth, harmonious tannins.
  • Saxum 2016 G2 Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 99 (11/29/2018)

    Checking in as a blend of 42% Grenache, 35% Mourvèdre, 20% Tannat, and the balance Zinfandel, the 2016 G2 is one of the standouts in this truly stacked lineup. It sports a vivid ruby/purple color as well as a rocking bouquet of black raspberries, new saddle leather, sweet garrigue, white pepper, and blood orange. Deep, rich, and layered, yet also light on its feet, incredibly complex, and perfectly balanced, it's an incredible wine from this up and coming vineyard that readers should snatch up. It will be even better with 2-4 years of bottle age and cruise in cold cellars for 10-15 years.
  • Saxum 2016 James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 100 (11/29/2018)

    One of the greatest GSM blends to ever come out of California is the 2016 James Berry Vineyard, which is 55% Grenache, 24% Mourvèdre, 13% Syrah, and 8% Counoise. This sensational wine reminds me of the 2016 Mon Aïeul from Pierre Usseglio with its awesome perfume of sweet blackberry and cassis fruits, smoke meats, exotic spice, licorice, and garrigue-like aromas and flavors. Deep, rich and layered on the palate, with a massive core of sweet fruit, this beauty builds with time in the glass and has incredible purity of fruit, a mix of richness and elegance that's hard to describe, sweet tannins, and a huge finish. It's every bit as impressive as the 2007 was on release. It needs a decant if drinking any time soon and should be at its best from 2020-2035. Hats off to Justin Smith for this incredible wine! I finished my note with “the greatest GSM blend from California, ever.”
  • Saxum 2015 'Broken Stones' Rhone Blend, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 97 (11/29/2018)

    The 2015 Broken Stones showed even better from bottle than barrel, which is common with Justin’s wines. A blend of 48% Syrah, 21% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, and the rest Petite Sirah and Roussanne, brought up in 75% new oak, it offers a classic, textbook 2015 straight and focused style as well as ample black and blue fruits, thyme, chocolate, and smoked earth. It has a dark, earthy edge and is full-bodied, silky, and elegant on the palate. It will benefit from short-term cellaring and cruise in cold cellars for over a decade.
  • Saxum 2015 Paderewski Vineyard, Paso Robles
    Jeb Dunnuck
    Rating: 97+ (11/29/2018)

    Moving to the 2015 reds, all of which were tasted from bottle, the 2015 Paderewski comes from a terrific site off of Peach Canyon Road and is 46% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah, 14% Petite Sirah, and the rest Zinfandel. This is a warmer site, and this deep purple-hued effort has loads of spicy blueberry and blackberry fruit, notes of ground pepper and garrigue, full body, incredible purity of fruit, and sweet, sweet tannins. As with most 2015s, it’s slightly closed and has some upside with short-term cellaring.
  • Saxum 2016 James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 97 (2/6/2019)

    Plush, polished and dynamic, with complexly layered blackberry, violet, garrigue, crushed stone and smoky pepper flavors that build richness and spirit toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2028.
  • Saxum 2016 G2 Vineyard, Paso Robles
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 93 (2/6/2019)

    Dynamic and expressive, with vibrant blueberry, smoky meat and pepper flavors that build richness toward big but polished tannins. Drink now through 2024.