Behind the vine: John Smith of Sierra Bonita Vineyards

2013-10-03T00:00:00Z 2014-10-16T12:33:31Z Behind the vine: John Smith of Sierra Bonita VineyardsBy Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

John Smith makes his living as a bankruptcy and business attorney.

The father of three also serves in the Air National Guard, and manages his family’s farm and vineyards.

And in a couple of months, he plans to open Tucson’s newest tasting room.

“My mom probably always said that I could never say no. Maybe this is the outcome,” says the 37-year-old Phoenix native. “You just do it, little by little.”

Smith embraces all of his roles — from being a father to Elizabeth, 7, Jacob, 5, and a newborn son Owen Davis; to managing the family’s 660-acre Sierra Bonita Vineyards 22 miles northwest of Willcox.

His full-time job is practicing business and bankruptcy law with his father, Gerald Smith, at their Tucson firm, Smith & Smith. He’s also a captain in the Arizona Air National Guard 161st Air Refueling Squadron. He’s been with the Guard since 2002 and in addition to his monthly weekend obligation, he tries to return once a week to his native Phoenix to clock flying time in a KC-135 refueling tanker. He has been deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Qatar.

Work on the farm picks up from spring to midfall. Friday he was back out in the vines with his parents and a hired hand harvesting grapes.

Usually his wife, Jan Leavitt Smith, who is Sierra Bonita’s winemaker, helps out, but she was back in Tucson awaiting the birth of Owen who arrived on Sunday.

His obligation to the vineyard kicked into overdrive the past several months as he worked on building plans and licenses to open a tasting room in his law-office building. If all goes as planned, it will open in November, and there will be one more thing for John Smith to tend to.

“I like the Guard and I don’t want to get out of that. I like flying,” he explains. “And it’s the family farm and family vineyard, but it also doesn’t pay enough to put my kids in the schools that I want them to go to, which is why I’m a lawyer. It also allows me to play a little bit.”

Contact reporter Cathalena

E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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