Charles Smith Chardonnay Release Party
Earlier this month, I drove to Seattle to hang out with Charles Smith and celebrate the launch of his new Chardonnay line with all the eccentric people over all the pizza in Georgetown.
Charles is one of those winemakers I have been talking about for years because raddest story + dude + labels + wines + why would you not want to drink them all. You've probably seen them. Graphic labels, catchy titles. Things like Kung Fu Girl Riesling and Velvet Devil Merlot. Usually when labels look this good, the wine is sewer water composed of 5% lizard (seriously: mass market warm climate places, the reptiles!) and a healthy dose of added sugar (sweet, silky garbage). Instead these are single vineyard wines made with love and all the care by a wicked, good insane person.
This month's Wine Spectator has a 12 page spread on Charles that is epic, inspiring and the most interesting to read. You should read it. If you refuse here is the one sentence summary: started from the bottom, worked his way up in restaurants, chased a girl to Denmark where he managed wicked rock bands, moved back to America, took over a tiny wine shop, convinced bankers to give him a loan on chutzpah + 1 bottle of his friend's juice, took chances, made innovative, smart delcious things, was playful and the most generous. #fireworksexplosion
My favourite bit that is so uniquely Charles: after making $73 k on a private sale to a UK chain Charles took his entire staff on an eight-day trip to New Orleans: "We did everything together. [...] I told them there was $73,000, there's 11 of us, and we have to spend it all". Tooooo good.
This time I drove from new home-base Vancouver. The drive to Seattle is so fucking beautiful. Seattle always seemed like this big American city, but driving on the little highway, it was all trees and water, adorable little buildings and sweet humans stuck in the 90s.
The party itself was in Georgetown, Seattle's oldest neighbourhood near the industrial part of town. It feels gritty and like history and was so far from the heart of the city I probably turned on my data to ensure my cab driver was not attempting my abduction (sorry, work! #roaming). Charles is opening his new winery close by just because of this oozing authenticity that makes you feel like you're in a place you should be.
The party was perfect. A sweaty, rammed pizza joint full of some of the world's best wines squeezed on a table like a Christmas potluck. We crammed between sweaty bodies with outstretched glasses, nodding our heads to loud music DJ'd by Bruce Pavitt one of the founders of Sub Pop (!!).
I met hot tattooed women in crop tops, restaurant people from everywhere, badass women running a brewery in Portland and art dealers in large hats.
We called a cab, before seeing the art dealer pull up beside us. It seemed like a good idea for him to drive us home, so we pilled into a stranger's car. He gave us a city tour and told us art gossip that I was obsessed with. Here are a bunch of photos. The next morning I woke up at 6 wanting to die. We ate organic, free run eggs (seattle!) and gluten free toast (seattle!) before driving home in our minivan like a bunch of soccer moms. The border guard asked why we were in Seattle for the night, "work". "Too bad", she said, before waving us on.