- "PURE VELVET! Milk chocolate, wild blackberry, baking spice, rose oil...beautifully perfumed Washington in a glass....Velvet Devil? HELL YEAH!"—Charles Smith.
Growing up just outside of Sacramento, California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Charles Smith began craving worldly travel at a young age due to his Welsh mother and French father. As soon as he had the chance, Charles decided to move to Denmark (for a lady friend he met in the states). While in Scandinavia, Charles spent the next nine years managing rock bands and concert tours throughout Europe, including the famed Danish duo, The Ravonettes. Wining and dining while on the road became a catalyst for his passion of wine, which ultimately triggered the career he has today.
In 1999, he moved back to the United States, specifically to the Pacific Northwest, opening a wine shop on Bainbridge Island, just across the Puget Sound from downtown Seattle. On a road trip in late 1999, he passed through the small town of Walla Walla and met a young Frenchman and winemaker. The two men discovered their common passion for great Syrah and Charles was eventually convinced to move to Walla Walla and make his own juice. In 2001, Charles released 330 cases of his first wine, the 1999 K Syrah. The Walla Walla Valley was now his home.
After a devastating freeze in 2004, Charles brought to life a label he had once in a dream: House Wine. Low and behold, the label concept had never been created or trademarked, so Charles launched the legendary brand before selling it to Precept Brands in 2006. That same year, Charles started a second brand, Charles Smith Wines. The brand was themed as "The Modernist Project," which focuses on the way people generally consume wine today: immediately. The intent was (and still is) to create wines to be enjoyed now, but with true typicity of both the varietal and the vineyard.
A self-taught winemaker, Charles is a true artisan and a pioneer in the wine world. In 2008, his winery was recognized by Wine & Spirits magazine as one of the "Best New Wineries of the Last Ten Years," and as "Winery of the Year" in their annual buying guide. In 2009, Food & Wine magazine awarded Charles "Winemaker of the Year", in 2010 Seattle Magazine recognized Charles as their "Winemaker of the Year", and in 2014, Wine Enthusiast also named him "Winemaker of the Year".