Charles Smith Wines is based in Walla Walla, Washington. It was founded in the late 1990s by Charles Smith, a self-taught winemaker who grew up in California and managed rock and roll bands in Europe before getting into the wine business in Washington. In 2001 he released his first wine, the 1999 K Syrah. He started a wine label called House Wine, which he then sold to Precept Brands. In 2006 he started Charles Smith Wines. Grapes are sourced from five Washington AVAs. Charles Smith Wines includes several labels. They are K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines, Secco Italian Bubbles, Charles & Charles and Vino. Varietals produced include Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Riesling, Pinto Grigio, Chardonnay and Viognier.
Columbia Valley AVA is larger than some states. At 18,000 square miles, or 11 million acres, the appellation covers almost half of Washington State and a small part of Oregon on the south side of the Columbia River. Established in 1984, Columbia Valley contains numerous sub appellations within its boundaries, including Yakima Valley AVA and Walla Walla AVA, both large and important wine districts. Columbia Valley AVA, generally called the Columbia Basin by Pacific Northwesterners, is in the Columbia River Plateau, and the AVA also includes a section of northeastern Oregon. There are dozens of microclimates within this appellation of about 7,000 vineyard acres. Many kinds of grapes are grown in the Columbia Valley, though the principal grapes planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Eastern Washington experiences very hot summers and cold winters, and the northern latitude means that Washington vineyards receive several more hours of sun in the summer than California vineyards. Grapes in Washington therefore have time to develop significant tannins and overall ripeness.
This grape produces a dark red wine with plenty of tannins. It is one of the six grapes allowed for blending red Bordeaux wines. Malbec is also the flagship variety of Argentina. The grape needs a lot of sun and heat to mature. It adds complexity and intensity to blends.