WineSmith Wines & Consulting
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
– Clark Smith
A Little history
goes a long way
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.
A Few Ways
Can Help You
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.”
Take a look at our Small Winery Start-Up Sequence. This is critical for small businesses putting their best foot forward with our years of consulting expertise. We look forward to helping you.
America’s Invisible Winemaking Revolution
Although seldom recognized in the press, we are living in a Golden Age of American winemaking.
The United States now has over 10,000 small wineries. While a few are centuries old, most are first generation start-up “Mom and Pop” operations that emerged within the last 40 years, and their numbers increase 5% each year.
This is not a game for sissies. The utter simplicity of making decent wine in a trash can in the garage belies the dizzying complexity of basic wine chemistry to make a consistent and inspiring product. Because it takes so long, winemaking entrepreneurs encounter unique financial and administrative challenges, to say nothing of natural disasters and daunting regulatory hurdles and trade barriers.
On the positive side, all of us are in this solely for the love of connecting the human soul to the soul of a place by rendering its grapes into liquid music. Winemaking is hard work, but it’s playful work. In addition, new technologies are constantly emerging to give small winemakers an edge.
WineSmith Wines & Consulting is a perfect sidekick precisely because we are small and thus share your problems. Over 58 vintages, we have made a lot of mistakes through which we are now equipped to advise you on a better path in winery design, equipment selection, lab techniques, inventory tracking, cost tracking, financial planning, compliance, communication, automation, and of course, the latest winemaking tools.
After playing many years in the big leagues, I find I enjoy working with the small guy, the start-up, the one-on-one where I can be a sounding board and provide a second opinion. I particularly like to help growers invent their own brands. I want to assist you in following your own dream, not mine.