Meet the Winemaker: Mike Smith
Have you ever wondered who is behind what makes Scarlett Wines so elevated and approachable? Meet our Winemaker, Mike Smith! We sat down with Mike for a quick Q&A session to discuss his background in wine, his methodology behind crafting our wines and his aspirations for the brand, and a few fun facts about him you can only find here!
How did you get started in the wine business?
I’ve always been a wine junkie. Believe it or not, I placed an ad in the Wine Spectator for trading wine, and Winemaker Thomas Brown answered the ad. We became friends and he offered me an internship in 1999.
What is one of your favorite varietals to work with and why?
Cabernet is king in Napa Valley, and making the big Napa Cab style is not easy. I take a lot of risks and get a lot of rewards, it’s my favorite of all the varietals.
In the world of wine, who has influenced you the most and why?
Les Behrens from Behrens Family Winery. I met Les when I had just moved to Napa Valley. He’s such a veteran in the industry and has always been very hands-on in making his own wines. When I met him I was a bit star-struck as I have always been a fan. He found out I was working for Thomas and offered me five words of advice: “never take your hands off your own wines.” I looked at his shoes and they were covered in lees. I’ll never forget that moment, I’ll never forget that advice – it has served me very well.
What do you enjoy most about making wine?
Crafting it with my own hands, mentoring, and helping my team learn about and excel in winemaking.
What’s the most challenging part of the harvest season and how do you overcome that challenge?
You only get one shot at the wine every year – one pick, one ferment, and each wine is what it is from mother nature’s vintage.
What are you most excited to do as the winemaker at Scarlett Wines in the future?
Create the most expressive new wines with varietals planted at the estate. These will include a Bordeaux Blend, a heritage blend of mixed blacks, and possibly a Merlot.
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Seeing people I’ve mentored succeed. It’s a tough business and I love it when young interns make their way up in winemaking and fulfill their dreams.
Favorite food and wine pairing?
Cabernet Sauvignon and Ruffles potato chips with a big Flannery steak!
What are three of your favorite hobbies?
Hiking, fishing, travel, and wine, of course.
Any other fun facts we should know about you?
I love to cook for friends and family, and make beer.
Have you had the opportunity to try Mike’s wines? With fresh, fruit-forward whites and bold, beautiful reds, our Rutherford, CA vineyards continuously produce ultra-premium wines that are elegant and structured with the guidance and skill of Mike Smith. Visit our website and explore our wines – we have something for every palate.