Downstream Wines

Downstream is one of the most exciting new wines in the World, crafted by two contemporary legends: Saxum Vineyards owner/winemaker Justin Smith, and revered French oenologist, the late-great Philippe Cambie, most famous for his work at Clos Saint Jean in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

  • Region: Paso Robles
  • Winery Location: Willow Creek District
  • Owner: Justin Smith, Philippe Cambie & Sasha Verhage
  • First Vintage: 2016
  • Winemaker: Justin Smith

Story

Justin and Philippe were bought together my their mutual friend, the visionary Sasha Verhage, who told Justin that Philippe wanted to work with him using ‘heritage’ Zinfandel, not repeating his work in the Rhône. They produced four remarkable vintages (2016-2019) before Philippe’s tragic passing.

When asked about the Downstream name, Justin says, “We’d been thinking about what to call it for forever, but nothing was sticking. And then I had a dream: I was driving down the 101, past Atascadero, about to get off the freeway to go to In-N-Out Burger, and it hit me.” In his dream, he exclaimed: “Downstream! We’re going to call it Downstream! I can’t wait to call Sasha and tell him that I found the perfect name: Downstream!” When he woke up, he felt it was the perfect name. And though he says the name didn’t hold a lot of meaning immediately after the dream, Smith now sees parallels between the name and his creative intentions. Smith’s portions of the proceeds from Downstream will be donated entirely to local charities. “I’ll be sending that money downstream,” he says.

This is a California Legend, already one of the most exclusive and sought after wines of Central California. With barely a few hundred cases to be produced each vintage, it’s well on the way to being a serious collector’s item too!

Vineyards

Justin and Philippe tracked down some amazing fruit from the famed Dusi Vineyard, which was first planted in 1945. Once the individual lots have completed their malolactic fermentation, usually in the Spring after harvest, Philippe puts the final blend together. The resulting wine was described by leading critic Jeb Dunnuck as having “Ineffable beauty”. If the young Downstream wines have a hallmark, it’s their structural integrity, generosity of fruit and a pronounced saline signature.

Winemaking

Justin Smith is a master of craft in the winery and out in the vineyard. He is constantly pushing, exploring, and pursuing. A creative force and visionary, Justin has elevated Paso Robles wines to world-class levels at his Saxum Vineyards.

Philippe was renowned for his precise palate, encyclopaedic knowledge of wine, and exquisite blending capabilities. He consulted for over 80 projects world-wide, most famously at multiple 100-point Clos St. Jean in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Latest arrivals from Downstream Wines

Four Corners Wine Icon

2016 Downstream Box Set (3x75cl + 1x150cl), Paso Robles 5x75cl

JD97
Blend: 76% Zinfandel, 8% Syrah, 6% Mataró, 6% Petite Sirah, 4% Tempranillo Production: 230 cases Founded in 2016, Downstream Wines is the collective brainchild of Saxum Vineyards owner and... winemaker Justin Smith, the late-great oenologist Philippe Cambie, and their mutual friend, the visionary Sasha Verhage. Together, they crafted a wine that will be remembered forever as watershed moment in Paso Robles, and California as a whole. When it comes to pushing the boundaries of greatness, their jaw-dropping Downstream is a magical wine. In the running as the greatest expression of Zinfandel ever produced, it's a peerless example of Cambie's unrivalled blending skills and Smith's rockstar winemaking. It also carries a real poignance as to honour the legacy of Cambie, following his passing in 2021, production was ended. Cambie's work in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is legendary, none more so than his multiple 100-point scores at Clos St. Jean. He had long desired to work with Justin in Paso Robles, focusing on 'heritage' Zinfandel. They chose the old vines of the Dusi Vineyard, planted in 1945, complimenting them with a carefully selected blend of varietals from sites including Saxum's own James Berry Vineyard.  The result is a taste and style that can only come from California: rich, intense, hedonistic, with an underlying elegance and energy. It's indicative of the forward thinking and ground breaking approach that's at its strongest in Paso Robles. Downstream is already a highly desirable and ultra-rare gem, and will be a treasured prize among collectors of California's finest wines who are lucky enough to find some.
£1,200 / Case£240 / BottleDuty Status: In Bond ⋅ Price incl. of Duty & VAT: £1,460.64 / Case, £292.13 / BottleAvailability: Immediate ⋅ ETA to UK address: 2-4 days

2017 Downstream Box Set (3x75cl + 1x150cl), Paso Robles 5x75cl

JD95VM96
Blend: 60% Zinfandel, 15% Mourvèdre, 9% Grenache, 7% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah, 2% Tannat, 1% Viognier Production: 560 cases Founded in 2016, Downstream Wines is the collective brainchild of Saxum... Vineyards owner and winemaker Justin Smith, the late-great oenologist Philippe Cambie, and their mutual friend, the visionary Sasha Verhage. Together, they crafted a wine that will be remembered forever as watershed moment in Paso Robles, and California as a whole. When it comes to pushing the boundaries of greatness, their jaw-dropping Downstream is a magical wine. In the running as the greatest expression of Zinfandel ever produced, it's a peerless example of Cambie's unrivalled blending skills and Smith's rockstar winemaking. It also carries a real poignance as to honour the legacy of Cambie, following his passing in 2021, production was ended. Cambie's work in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is legendary, none more so than his multiple 100-point scores at Clos St. Jean. He had long desired to work with Justin in Paso Robles, focusing on 'heritage' Zinfandel. They chose the old vines of the Dusi Vineyard, planted in 1945, complimenting them with a carefully selected blend of varietals from sites including Saxum's own James Berry Vineyard.  The result is a taste and style that can only come from California: rich, intense, hedonistic, with an underlying elegance and energy. It's indicative of the forward thinking and ground breaking approach that's at its strongest in Paso Robles. Downstream is already a highly desirable and ultra-rare gem, and will be a treasured prize among collectors of California's finest wines who are lucky enough to find some.
£1,100 / Case£220 / BottleDuty Status: In Bond ⋅ Price incl. of Duty & VAT: £1,340.64 / Case, £268.13 / BottleAvailability: Immediate ⋅ ETA to UK address: 2-4 days

2018 Downstream Box Set (3x75cl + 1x150cl), Paso Robles 5x75cl

JD98VM98
Blend: 38% Zinfandel, 30% Mataro, 16% Grenache, 6% Counoise, 6% Graciano, 3% Syrah, 1% Petite Sirah Vintage production: 600 cases Founded in 2016, Downstream Wines is the collective brainchild of... Saxum Vineyards owner and winemaker Justin Smith, the late-great oenologist Philippe Cambie, and their mutual friend, the visionary Sasha Verhage. Together, they crafted a wine that will be remembered forever as watershed moment in Paso Robles, and California as a whole. When it comes to pushing the boundaries of greatness, their jaw-dropping Downstream is a magical wine. In the running as the greatest expression of Zinfandel ever produced, it's a peerless example of Cambie's unrivalled blending skills and Smith's rockstar winemaking. It also carries a real poignance as to honour the legacy of Cambie, following his passing in 2021, production was ended. Cambie's work in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is legendary, none more so than his multiple 100-point scores at Clos St. Jean. He had long desired to work with Justin in Paso Robles, focusing on 'heritage' Zinfandel. They chose the old vines of the Dusi Vineyard, planted in 1945, complimenting them with a carefully selected blend of varietals from sites including Saxum's own James Berry Vineyard.  The result is a taste and style that can only come from California: rich, intense, hedonistic, with an underlying elegance and energy. It's indicative of the forward thinking and ground breaking approach that's at its strongest in Paso Robles. Downstream is already a highly desirable and ultra-rare gem, and will be a treasured prize among collectors of California's finest wines who are lucky enough to find some.
£1,150 / Case£230 / BottleDuty Status: In Bond ⋅ Price incl. of Duty & VAT: £1,399.86 / Case, £279.97 / BottleAvailability: Immediate ⋅ ETA to UK address: 2-4 days