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Charles Smith: Punk Rock, Passion & the VIWF!

WB Yeats once said,

Wine comes in at the mouth and love comes in at the eye;  that’s all we shall know for truth before we grow old and die.

Indeed, there are torrents of love as inspiration behind every winemaker’s story – with ebb and flow that remains constant.

If these love-inspired tenets truly are the alchemy to ‘poetry in a bottle’, then Charles Smith from Walla Walla, Washington would have resided in WB Yeats’ cellar.

Photo Credit: Charles Smith

Photo Credit: Charles Smith

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

— Charles Bukowski

"You must be willing to love so much to get your heart broken, be the underdog in a fight to get a fat lip, and in life,   willing to go over the edge. The ones that play it safe, in life or in business, will rarely see the other side. What truly horrible lives they must lead."

— Charles Smith, President, Charles Smith Wines and Wine Enthusiast’s 2014 “Winemaker of the Year”

Last night at the Vancouver International Wine Festival,  I was a man on a mission.

After a wildly-painful day in VC meetings, the day job, a last minute shuffle and a few continental pleas as our originally scheduled writer fell off the map with the flu, I stepped in to save the day…

I mean – drinking wine for my partner, the curator of LoveBeingHere, isn’t the worst way I could have spent an evening.

(No, Sophie Lui… I am n-o-t the real Taylor Jukes)

Having been up since 4am,  I wanted to cut to the chase.  I approached Kristine; of HethPR the ever-so-affable aussie event publicist and belted out…

Kristine….if I had to attend j-u-s-t one booth tonight of a winemaker who is a maverick, a poet….’ who hasn’t forgotten where he (or she) has come from….who is eclectic, passionate and has created a Cab Sav that is bold, full, and bodacious (as if Scarlet Johannson was a glass of wine)…. WHO would that be?

Not only Kristine, but Deerholme Farm’s wine afficiando Bill Jones chimed in with perfect harmony….  Charles Smith Wine,  from Washington State.

OMG people.

Let me preface what I am about to say with the fact that one of my closest friends is Brad Dropping, the owner of Napa Valley Bike Tours. A must while you are down in the area – they are experts in finding the under the radar jewels.

NVdaytrips-0413 66

I have sipped & cycled with (and to) some of the best of the best ‘below the radar’ killer cabs in Sonoma… Rutherford, & Stags Leap – and personally covet the Silverado Trail as the pathway to Mecca.

Last night, Charles Smith raised the bar even further.

Let me create the picture….’Charles Smith is a real dude.  Wild hair you almost have to walk around.   He looks like he could have played lead guitar for ZZ Top – but don’t let that fool you.

Winemaker: Charles Smith, m!Media Writer: Ray Matthews

Winemaker: Charles Smith, m!Media Writer: Ray Matthews

As the story goes, and it was marvellously echoed last night, Charles’s love of wine inspired a life long odyssey. After a decade working in every area of the food and wine industry in California.

A pattern was emerging, one of constantly taking on bigger challenges. “I always got jobs one step beyond my skill set,” he admits “I was bound to fail, but it always pushed me forward.” – Charles to the Wine Spectator.

On the heels (pun intended) of chasing a piece of tail to Denmark, Thanks Leila, that story rocked! Charles weaved his way making ends meet by promoting some local musical talent, sucking the very marrow out of the experience – even camping out & raiding the cellar of one White Horse Inn in Sussex.. This man lives and breathes his road side education.. and his ‘Beaudoux’style’ influences show up in every sip I sampled.

His Cabs and Zins are the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.

Check out Charles Smith.   It will change the way you see red….and feel love.


Writer’s Final Verse –   The Vancouver International Wine Festival is on for a few more days; with tickets still available for Saturday’s international afternoon delight. Last night, an epic ‘ensemble of poets’ were sharing their nectar from the gods to an enthusiastic audience; with Canada, Australia, Washington State, California, NYC….even Croatia pouring their soul.  This is an event not to miss.

words by | REM

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