Started in Walla Walla, Washington, in the late 1990’s, award-winning winemaker Charles Smith’s company Wines of Substance includes K Vintners, SIXTO, CasaSmith, Substance and B. Leighton. Additionally, Charles owns one-half of Charles & Charles. Wines of Substance is the largest winemaker-owned winery in Washington and the 4th largest producer in the state. In 2015, the company expanded to Seattle with the opening of Jet City, the largest urban winery on the west coast, that has attracted visitors from around the world. Winemaker and founder Charles Smith is the only person to have received Winemaker of the Year distinctions by both Wine Enthusiast (2014) and Food & Wine (2009).
“Substance is defined as the quality of being important, valid and significant,” said Charles Smith. “The driving force behind all of my creations is substance and ‘Wines of Substance’ is the perfect name to illustrate my philosophy of producing exceptional wines to be enjoyed by everyone around the globe.”
There’s a rock-and-roll sensibility to Smith, his wines, and his business overall. It makes sense since prior to moving to Washington to make wine, Smith, originally from California, spent nearly a decade managing indie rock bands on tour in Europe.
Later, a visit to the Pacific Northwest took him to Walla Walla, where he met some winemakers who convinced him to move to Washington and follow his dream of becoming a winemaker. Smith first discovered wine at the age of 19 or 20, by way of restaurants as many do. As a winemaker, he is self-taught.
Throughout his young adulthood he relished visiting wineries, meeting and talking with winemakers, learning about the craft and developing his palate. Finally, in 1999, he planted roots in Walla Walla, rolled up his sleeves and produced 330 cases of wine. Today, Charles Smith is the third largest producer of wine in Washington, and the state’s largest independent winemaker-owned winery.