With Memorial Day kicking off the summer season, many Santa Monicans will enjoy the flavors of the grill accompanied by a glass of their favorite wine but starting this year, a new company is offering the best of both worlds.

Santa Monica based Vinesmoke is launching in June offering pre-packaged wood clippings from vineyards. The wood can be used for grilling or smoking and the practice has its literal roots in the European wine industry where the annual pruning of grape vines would create a surplus of vineyard wood that locals used for cooking.

Co-Founder Kiel Subbelfield said his business partners come from Spain where the practice has a strong following and the pair decided to import the tradition.

“Much to our surprise, nobody was doing it here,” he said. “It’s a really unique product. We want to share that with everyone and it comes from our love of food and wine.”

Subbelfield moved to Santa Monica in 2005 and established another enterprise with his business partner. He said the city might not be known for growing grapes, but it’s been a good place to live and work.

“I’ve been a Westside guy for the last 15 years. My business partner and I worked here for a long time, we have offices here, we love it here. It’s convenient for business to be close to everything and it’s been really cool to see it develop over the years. It’s been cool to watch the evolution of the town.”

Subbelfield said he’s excited for the wood to be on sale locally and the company has secured distribution at several Whole Foods stores starting June. Vinesmoke will be on sale in Malibu, Venice, El Segundo, Fairfax and Burbank. Medium bags will be on sale for $19.99 and large bags will cost $29.99.

He said the amount of food that can be cooked with the wood varies based on the method (smoking requires less than grilling) but even the smaller bag will cover multiple meals. He described the flavor as “kind of earthy with a berry sweetness.”

“It’s a very complex flavor. When you smoke with hickory or mesquite, you kind of know what you’re getting, you can tell those flavors, but this is really interesting, very unique, very complex,” he said.

Subbelfield said they are working on introducing the product to local restaurants and as the first wine-related product for the BBQ or grill, they are developing recipes and tasting guides to help home cooks.

The wood is certified sustainable and non-GMO. Subbelfield said the same attention that goes into maximizing grape quality is shown in the wood itself.

“We’ve been really, really careful and spent a lot of time and energy making sure we got the absolute best quality grapes and vines we can for this,” he said.

The company is also launching a pair of wines made from the vines that will be for sale on their website.

Subbelfield said he hopes the concept of vines as cooking fuel will eventually be as common as applewood.

“One of the angles we’re approaching with is to use the term vinesmoke as an adjective, a descriptor,” he said. “We want to use that to describe how we smoke it, I think it’s really cool.”

For more information, visit https://www.vinesmoke.com/.


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