Why “Sweet Cheeks”?

While visiting Sweet Cheeks Winery in the late afternoon during our first fourteen years, you would have noticed our Founder, Dan Smith. He would be sitting on the patio, pint in hand and black lab by his side. His deep voice telling stories that seemed too funny or too crazy to be true. Signature Carhartt shirt with the original Sweet Cheeks logo stitched on the pocket. Toothpick in the side of his mouth and giant smile.

Dan liked to tell stories to everyone. One of his favorite stories was telling the origin of Sweet Cheeks Vineyards. The name came from the completion of our vineyard in the mid-1990s with the help of his father-in-law, Charlie, and Bruce Biehl. At the time, Dan and Charlie lived across the valley from the vineyard. They noticed the sweeping and rolling hillsides the vineyard highlighted, and were pleased with their “sweet” creation.

Our original label and logo – the first vintage of Sweet Cheeks was a 2003 Pinot Noir with the help of a few neighboring wineries. In the following years we added other wines to our portfolio, including the famous semi-sweet Rosé.

You Won’t Forget It

Without telling Dan, the next day Charlie registered Sweet Cheeks Vineyards. As Dan started getting mail for the new business, he laughed to himself and said, “here we go!” – Dan sold the grapes to a few wineries in the Willamette Valley.

In the early 2000s, Dan was standing below the beautiful oak tree that now anchors our patio. As he looked over the valley, he knew he had to share the view with the world. Because this valley and the community of Crow were so welcoming to him in the 1960s when he moved from Southern California, he also knew having a Crow somehow in our logo would be important.

Our name and logo are great conversation starters that lead into stories. Dan would always say, “you won’t forget it.”

Our Winery nearing completion. Opening day was 2005 Thanksiving Weekend.

Building a Legacy

Dan opened the doors to Sweet Cheeks Winery on Thanksiving Weekend in 2005. He thought 2,000 to 2,500 cases of wine would be more than enough, and here we are sixteen years later crafting 16,000 – 18,000 cases. Dan’s vision was to create a winery that allowed guests to feel like family during their visit. No need to overcomplicate wine because at the end of the day as long as you have good wine and good company, that was the good life.

Dan loading barrels on the original Sweet Cheeks flatbed that once delivered bins of grapes to other wineries.

Sweet Cheeks Family

Building a family foundation was very important to Dan. He wanted to create a Sweet Cheeks Family, and we feel incredibly fortunate to welcome guests into that family every single day.

Having an inclusive wine club that appealed to a wide range of wine palates, a patio that made time and worries slip away, and a friendly staff were all important elements of the winery to Dan.

Dan looking at the Pinot Noir in 2017. This block of Pinot Noir would be renamed “Boss’ Block” in 2018 to honor Dan.

Dan passed away in the winter of 2018. His wife, Beth, stepped in as the President, and continued her role of CFO and guiding light of the business. Our first employee we ever hired, Leo, continues to lead the winemaking operations. In 2016, Dan’s graddaughter, Jessica, was named General Manager and his stepdaughter, Katie, was named Director of Consumer Sales and Marketing. Together the four of them dedicate their days to carrying on Dan’s legacy.