The transition was set in motion in July when fire of undetermined origin destroyed Oakstone. Last month, just as the fall harvest of wine grapes was getting under way, Smith, his wife Susan and the Ryans resurrected Oakstone by moving what remained of it into its smaller sister winery nearby, Obscurity Cellars. Now the Smiths, with no family members interested in joining the wine trade, have taken the next logical step in selling the business to the Ryans. The financial terms were not revealed, but Smith indicated that what was most important to him and his wife was that the business be taken over by someone who already knows the area and who will continue to work toward the standards he's set. "Any other new owner might not carry on the traditions we have established of excellent wine, attention to our loyal customers, and a very enjoyable tasting-room 'vibe' - and that would break my heart more surely than any disaster could," Smith says.
The new facility, 6470 Irish Acres Road, Fair Play, hard by the original winery, is open 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. When it first opened it had space for just five parking slots, but that has been expanded to 11.
Though Smith says he's sticking to his plans to retire, he will continue to maintain the couple's vineyard, consult to the Ryans, write the winery's newsletters and hang out at the tasting room, particularly during special events such as the Port & Chocolate Festival coming up Dec. 8 and 9.