I’ve been making and selling wine in California since 1972. I enjoy teaching, writing, and singing about wine, so I wear a lot of hats. I built this site to clarify these involvements.
Use the drop down menu in our Shop page to view videos and other information for all our wines past and present.
To see a list of all the wines that have videos, visit Wine Video list.
For Clark’s Cooking Show, Gracious Living in the Time of Corona Series.
I’ve been in the wine business since 1972 when I dropped out of MIT and got a job in an Oakland, California wine shop. I completed the BS and MS programs at UC Davis, built R.H. Phillips in the ’90s, and founded Vinovation in 1992, providing high tech services and consulting for over a thousand wineries, originally centered around the reverse osmosis VA and alcohol adjustment techniques I invented.
In 1984 I began teaching a short course at UC Davis called Fundamentals of Wine Chemistry, which continued for 24 years and was one of their most popular courses, attended by everyone from home winemakers to seasoned professionals. In the early ’90s, I began to see cracks in the theories I’d been taught at school and began to focus on French winemaking aesthetics and techniques. I felt I was making really good white wines and terrible reds, and this led me on a journey to rediscover what red wine itself actually is.
Besides making my own wines, I consult for other wineries in technical matters, shepherd start-ups, and coach winemakers on the use of music in their work.
I conduct wine-making classes throughout the world and lecture at CSU Fresno and at Florida International University, where I also direct research in cognitive enology and conduct educational tours.
“Smith has a rich and swirling mind that is on display in this both technical and philosophical treatise on modern winemaking issues that have been pushed to the fore through innovation” – Tom Wark’s Fermentation Wine Blog, December 18, 2013
The technical quality of wine today far surpasses its condition in the 1970s, when half the wines on the shelf had serious technical flaws. Most wine today is completely made, and the challenge has shifted to grasping its vast multiplicity.
Since 2008 I have been chronicling the regional flavor profiles of America’s 300+ viticultural areas (AVAs) as Director of the Best of Appellation panel at AppellationAmerica.com.
Our winemaking philosophy is aligned with the principles of Postmodern Winemaking. We are part of a worldwide courageous cadre of winemakers and growers throughout the world dedicated to exploring its mysteries. Wine is something ancient and venerated, recognized as sacred in Roman times and long before. But 20th century ideas have riven the soul from wine and rendered it into a bland commodity. Now we’re getting back to what the ancients knew: that living soil matters, that wine integrates its flavors through refined structure, that when it possesses soulfulness, wine is (as Ben Franklin observed) “proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
Some of my writing addresses what tools are and their appropriate use in order to facilitate the openness which exists between winemakers and consumers around more seriously invasive technologies such as electricity and stainless steel. A rethinking of how science can serve our aesthetic work is has given birth to a new view of winemaking, the subject of my book, Postmodern Winemaking.