Charles Smith In The News: What is a winemaker?

There are a couple stories in the wine news right now that are very interesting; Charles Smith, the winemaker for 'K Vintners' and part of the group that made the Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon that we sent out as one of our wine club wines, has filed a lawsuit against some individuals who made anonymous blog posts on The Grey Market Report wine blog, essentially accusing Mr. Smith of not being the winemaker.  According to the Grey Market Report, the law suit became evident when Google was subpoenaed to obtain the ip addresses of the anonymous posters.

The court case seems to be groundbreaking-at least in this industry.  There are many peripheral blog posts and articles going up about slander, libel and the legality of what people say.  Here's a geeky legal article that was featured on; click for PalatePress post

The comments in The Grey Market Report seem to ask the question; what is a winemaker?  People are accusing Mr. Smith of not being a winemaker, but it seems like they aren't completely clear on some of the things that a modern day winemaker does.  For instance, many winemakers buy juice in the bulk wine market which they release under their label.  Sometimes they won't physically touch the wine until it is in the bottle, but that doesn't mean that they didn't craft the blend and create a masterpiece.  There are several boundaries that are being illuminated in these posts.  What does a winery do?  What makes a label a label?  How much does marketing affect what people think about a wine?  I think that when this settles out, that people will appreciate estate bottled wines and single vineyard wines a little more.

I'd like to quickly note that the Chateau Smith that we sent out, is still a wine that I think is good, interesting, representative of the region and well worth the money.

I highly encourage you to read the blog post and comments in their entirety at The Grey Market Report.  You can find it here: I would, however, be very careful about comments on the post because of the scrutiny that you might be subjecting yourself to.

This discussion seems to be far from over!

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