Weekend Wine: Former Raveonettes Manager Makes Delicious Washington Wine

Music man turned millionaire wino Charles Smith slays with ViNO Rosso

Anyone who has spent time with winemaker/multi-millionaire Charles Smith wouldn’t be surprised that his previous career was manager of The Raveonettes. Like many professional rockers, Smith looks like a ketamine-crazed Viking berserker. Acts like it sometimes, too.

The Berserker (Photo Courtesy of the Winery)

BUT, what great wine he makes! Smith makes several award-winning wines in the $50-$100 range, but apropos of the low-paid music industry, some of his most creative achievements occur in his lower-priced wines. Those of us who normally shop in the low-to-mid sections of the wine shop should be thankful that Smith is still that hungry rock 'n' roller at heart. The reason I mentioned multi-millionaire is that in 2007, he sold his original budget line, House Wines, for several million dollars. Then in 2016, he sold his Charles Smith wines to Constellation for $120 million. After these nice paydays, most people would walk away and play. Not Smith. He just started working harder.

With his ultra-budget line sold off, he decided to introduce another affordable line. Inspired by Italian winemaking and Washington fruit, the ViNO group makes four wines: two whites (Moscato and Pinot Grigio), one Sangiovese Rosé, and one red wine. All are $12.

My favorite is the ViNO Rosso, a blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Sangiovese. It is an ideal introduction to both Washington fruit and Smith’s winemaking focus. Its dark, peppery aromas collide with the typical Washington fruitiness to create a perfect partner for Americanized Italian dishes like lasagna, pizza, or spaghetti and meatballs.

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Charles Smith, ViNO, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Washington


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