I have been following Charles Smith for years. He is the Owner-winemaker Charles Smith (not the ex-Knick) with his big hair, kick ass attitude and bold packaging which arrived in the Walla Walla Valley following eleven years in Scandinavia managing rock bands. Originally hailing from northern California, he has been involved with wine personally and professionally his entire life...I find it a little hard to believe that a manager of a rock band enjoys alcohol? :) Charles has a truly unique personality that you usually don't find among the serious winemakers. But he's very serious about making wine and about getting what he wants in the glass, and that's what we love about him. His Charles Smith Wines, priced in the $12 to $20 range, and the more-extravagant Vintners, which go for $40 to $100, are some of the most beautifully packaged and respected wines in the world. To quote Charles:“It’s just booze – drink it!” So we caught up with Charles a few days ago...here is how it went down.
Please tell us how many different wines Charles Smith makes.
We have about 30 different labels – 8-9 different varietals and blends
What are your favorites?
The next one I am going to drink….German Riesling, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Burgundy
How many cases do you produce and how big is the vineyard?
Total production is be in the neighborhood of 150,000 cases. Our estate vineyard is only 2 acres; the rest of the vineyards are contracted with.
Why and how Walla Walla?
Perfect terroir for Syrah and it’s young so there is a sense of adventure; on a road trip in 1999 I met Christophe Baron of Cayuse and he suggested I make wine in Walla Walla.
Please tell us about the weather and how it can effect wine making in Walla Walla?
6 out of 7 years its perfect, then there is a freeze – we just learn to work with what Mother Nature serves us
Walla Walla or Napa Valley, and why?
Walla Walla. It has a lot of “yet to be discovered” vineyard sites…as a producer this is the time to be a part of the history of Washington wine.
Who inspires you?
For me it is not the “who” but the “what”....passionate people. The ones that are willing to sacrifice to get where they want to go. Whether it be an artist, musician, athlete or parent, what one is willing to give up to realize their dream, or help someone else realize theirs.
The Big Bad Bo Diddley Beat…”Who Do You Love”
Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?
Please fill in the blank...wine is...
Please give our readers your favorite wine and food pairingsI
love sautéed wild mushrooms (Morels, Chantrelles), parsley and chives on pan grilled bread - give this German Riesling or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Alaskan salmon with Pinot Noir. Wood grilled lamb lion and a mature Syrah.
Your advice to wine collectors
If you like it enough to buy 3, buy 6. You’ll wish you did. I typically choose my favorite regions, then choose several producers from each region and every year I buy a case or two of each, plus magnums. You’ll be surprised how fast it can pile up! You can never have too much wine or enough room to store it all. Build a BIG cellar!
Do you have a mailing list?
Yes – email only - click here to subscribe
Whats new on the horizon?The future is ours to see. K SYRAH!
Did Horace Grant (Chicago Bulls) foul you?!
That depends on whether you’re a Knicks fan or a Bulls fan…..
* The last question above was a bit of humor, but below is a video of the play. Did Horace Grant foul Charles Smith? You be the judge! Let us know in the comments.
To this day the only thing that Joe (Joseph) and I (Curtis) disagree on is that I am 100% sure that was a foul...while Mr Kline begs to differ!
To place wine orders for Charles Smith wines please contact us.