Charles Smith is the visionary winemaker behind iconic brands like K Vintners and Substance. Charles has received 198 scores of 95 points and above and 768 scores of 90 points and above. Today, House of Smith is the largest independent and winemaker-owned winery in Washington State with wines sold in all 50 states and 23 countries worldwide. And it all started a little over 20 years ago, with 330 cases of 1999 K Syrah sold out of the back of Charles’ 1987 Astro van.
Charles Smith’s unlikely rise to “rockstar winemaker” status is the stuff indie cult-classic films are made of. He became intrigued with wine while working in restaurants at the age of 19. One restaurant job appealed to Charles most: the one where the guy came in late, left early, and drank all night. Before he could fully explore the path to becoming “The Wine Guy”, another passion called Charles: music. Charles spent a decade touring Europe as a rock band manager in Denmark before returning to the United States to immerse himself in the emerging music scene in Seattle, Washington. He found a way to explore his burgeoning interest in wine by opening a wine shop on Bainbridge Island, but Charles felt compelled to create the wines, not just to sell them.
A chance road trip to Walla Walla, Washington, in 1999 gave Charles that opportunity. He watched, listened, absorbed. Most importantly, he created. With almost nothing in his pockets, Charles Smith found a way to produce his first vintage…the aforementioned 330 cases of 1999 K Syrah.In the two decades since, Charles Smith has left an undeniable impact on the wine industry. Charles developed (and later sold) iconic brands like House Wine and Charles Smith Wines, the home of smash-hit wines like Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Boom Boom Syrah, and the Velvet Devil Merlot. He earned recognition as Wine & Spirits Magazine Winery of the Year (2008), Food & Wine Winemaker of the Year (2009), Wine Enthusiast Winemaker of the Year (2014), and placed #2 and #13 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 List (2017). In 2006, Charles created the cult-favorite, Royal City Syrah, and that inaugural vintage made Charles Smith one of only four Washington winemakers to earn a 100-point score. In 2015, Charles opened Charles Smith Wines Jet City in Seattle Washington, the largest urban winery on the West Coast.Each of these accomplishments reinforce the same theme: Charles Smith creates wine for the people.Wine that is significant.
Wine that proclaims, “I am from Washington.”
Wine that is intriguing from first glance at the label to last sip from the bottle.
Wine that embodies the intangible wonders of life… passion, natural beauty, tradition, goodness, rock ‘n’ roll, heartache, tenderness, love, laughter, life, and thankfulness.
Ever the visionary, Charles renamed the business in 2021. House of Smith includes the brands K Vintners, Substance, ViNO CasaSmith, SIXTO, B.Leighton, POPUP, and Golden West, covering nearly every noble grape variety. And while the new name marks a new chapter in an already storied history, more importantly, House of Smith looks to the future. Charles’ daughter Charlotte wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a winemaker one day.
It would have been impossible to predict Charles Smith’s meteoric rise to wine legend in such a short time. Likewise, it is impossible to foresee what the future holds in the next two decades and beyond.
Whatever the future holds, you’ll want to be a part of it.