W.H. Smith

Luck and timing led Bill and Joan Smith into the wine business: enthusiasm, perseverance, and good advice from a few talented friends facilitated their success as world-class producers. A wrong turn while trying to visit Chappellet Vineyard led Bill Smith to discover and purchase the historic ghost winery, La Jota Vineyard Co., including 40 acres on top of Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley. Two years later, in 1976, Bill and his new wife, Joan, spent their honeymoon planting the first 2 acres of vines, which would grow to 28 acres by 1978. After a few classes in home winemaking at UC Davis, a lot of experimenting, and some priceless mentoring from friend and Howell Mountain neighbor Randy Dunn, the Smith’s produced La Jota Vineyard’s first Cabernet Sauvignon vintage in 1982. With Bill making the wine and Joan responsible for sales and marketing, the couple garnered attention and accolades—including being listed as #2 on Robert Parker’s roster of "heroes" in the December 1994 issue of The Wine Advocate.
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