Charles Smith is the winemaker behind House of Smith, the largest independent and winemaker-owner winery in Washington State. Smith took a winding path to get to winemaker, first spending time working in restaurants and traveling as a rock band manager, before selling 330 cases of K Syrah out of the back of his 1987 Astro van.
Fast forward to today, and Smith has a number of labels beneath his umbrella (K Vintners, Substance, ViNO CasaSmith, SIXTO, B. Leighton, POPUP, and Golden West), and has been recognized for excellence within the industry.
The Jet City tasting room is located in Georgetown, south of Seattle and close to Boeing Field, in a former Dr. Pepper bottling plant. There are two tasting rooms, the rustic main floor and a larger space upstairs (which was not open at the time of our visit). There is also a tasting room in Walla Walla.
There are three flight options for tasting - white, Walla Walla red, and mixed. Knowing our love for Walla Walla reds, that was our choice. The tasting fee varies in price ($20-25) and is waived with a qualifying purchase. A limited snack menu is also available; the cheese board paired with our flight. Wine is available for purchase by the glass or bottle, as well as in a tasting flight.
We started off the tasting with a 2020 Rose (ViNO CasaSmith), not on the tasting menu, and served more as a welcome. This was delicious, and something we wouldn't typically order. It was bright and juicy and we took a few bottles home, for gifts and for some upcoming summer afternoons on the deck. It's bargain-priced at $12 bottle and drinks well over its value.
The tasting included 2018 The Boy, 2018 Rockgarden, 2018 Creator (all from K Vintners); and 2017 Jack's Cabernet and 2017 Klein BX (both from Substance Vineyard Collection). Let's get to information about our favorites (in addition to the rose mentioned above).
2017 Klein BX
This Bordeaux blend has crushed volcanic rock, cassis tar, lilac, and potpourri on the nose, which mellows out to a fascinating blend of flavors. 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc, and 28% Merlot.
This was hands down on our favorite of the flight (and yes, we took a couple of bottles home). We enjoy Bordeaux blends, so this one jumped out at us. I thought flinty flavors were prominent, smoothing out to a floral finish. Loved this one. $70 bottle/$18 glass.
Black plum, Asian five-spice, warm turned river stone notes. Flavors of black olive, high-polished black shoe leather, and beef jerky. 100% Syrah.
We always try to identify our personal aroma and flavors before turning to tasting notes, and leather came through on my first sip and lingered in the very best way. Another delicious option. $55 bottle/$15 glass).
2018 The Boy
A bouquet of black raspberry, Alpine strawberry, licorice stick, white pepper, and dark cherry. A satiny palate of forest floor, fireplace ash, game, and summer rain. 100% Grenache.
The black raspberry and dark cherry notes were easily identifiable, and from the first whiff, I knew this would be a favorite (it was the first sampled on the tasting flight). The mellow forest flavors provide a nice finish. When paired with some cheese we notice some additional flavors jumping out at us, more fruit-forward than earthy. We had to buy some to take home. $50 bottle/$14 glass.
The House of Smith/Jet City Winery tasting room is located at 1136 South Albro Place, Seattle (website here). Current hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, noon-5 pm. Reservations are required. Although if you're in the neighborhood, they will accommodate walk-ins if capacity allows.
Drink responsibly. Have a designated driver (or take a cab or ride service) when doing wine tasting.