Marching to His Own Drummer

In Washington and beyond, Charles Smith Takes an eclectic approach to make wines people love to drink
From the Oct 15, 2014, issue

Although all of the Charles Smith bottlings rely on traditional winemaking, winemaker Charles Smith's public persona and business approach defy convention. His frizzy long blond hair, showing some gray, flails about his boyish face, part Medusa, part Sideshow Bob. At 52, he favors jeans and T-shirts, some of them artifacts of his decade of work in the rock 'n' roll world. He started from scratch with a line of bank credit; a series of smart business moves; brilliant labeling and marketing strategies. Along the way, business and personal relationships ran aground. But mostly, Smith has produced a stunning array of wines with personalities as bold as the guy who makes them. Wine Spectator's Harvey Steiman explains.

Member-Only Content

Premium Subscription

Join today and get immediate access to this article, and to our entire database of more than 400,000 wine ratings. It only takes moments—but it will help you drink better all year long.

Start Free 30-day Trial

Already a member? Sign In

You Might Also Like

Sommelier Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Springtime Brunch Wine?

Sommelier Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Springtime Brunch Wine?

Before your brain goes straight to bubbly, check out these recommendations by nine wine …

May 5, 2021
Tiquette Bramlett Has Ambitious Goals for Oregon's Vidon Vineyard

Tiquette Bramlett Has Ambitious Goals for Oregon's Vidon Vineyard

In an exclusive interview, the first Black woman to run a winery in a major U.S. region …

May 7, 2021
Wine Talk: Maz Jobrani's Wine Routine

Wine Talk: Maz Jobrani's Wine Routine

The Iranian-American comedian talks about growing up in wine country, comedic wine rituals …

Apr 29, 2021
The Tractor of Montemarano (Touring Campania, Part 4)

The Tractor of Montemarano (Touring Campania, Part 4)

How Salvatore Molettieri became a benchmark for potent Aglianico

Apr 28, 2021
Pop Stars: Pauline Lhote of Napa's Domaine Chandon

Pop Stars: Pauline Lhote of Napa's Domaine Chandon

The head winemaker at the storied sparkling wine house encourages women in the wine …

Apr 23, 2021
Remembering Pio Boffa

Remembering Pio Boffa

Barolo star Pio Boffa's classic wines were matched by his passion and hospitality

Apr 19, 2021