Growing up just outside of Sacramento, California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Charles Smith began craving worldly travel at a young age due to his Welsh mother and French father. As soon as he had the chance, Charles decided to move to Denmark (for a lady friend he met in the states). While in Scandinavia, Charles spent the next nine years managing rock bands and concert tours throughout Europe, including the famed Danish duo, The Ravonettes. Wining and dining while on the road became a catalyst for his passion of wine, which ultimately triggered the career he has today.
In 1999, he moved back to the United States, specifically to the Pacific Northwest, opening a wine shop on Bainbridge Island, just across the Puget Sound from downtown Seattle. On a road trip in late 1999, he passed through the small town of Walla Walla and met a young Frenchman and winemaker. The two men discovered their common passion for great Syrah and Charles was eventually convinced to move to Walla Walla and make his own juice. In 2001, Charles released 330 cases of his first wine, the 1999 K Syrah. The Walla Walla Valley was now his home.
After a devastating freeze in 2004, Charles brought to life a label he had once in a dream: House Wine. Low and behold, the label concept had never been created or trademarked, so Charles launched the legendary brand before selling it to Precept Brands in 2006. That same year, Charles started a second brand, Charles Smith Wines. The brand was themed as “The Modernist Project,” which focuses on the way people generally consume wine today: immediately. The intent was (and still is) to create wines to be enjoyed now, but with true typicity of both the varietal and the vineyard.
A self-taught winemaker, Charles is a true artisan and a pioneer in the wine world. In 2008, K Vintners was recognized by Wine & Spirits magazine as one of the “Best New Wineries of the Last Ten Years,” and as “Winery of the Year” in their annual buying guide. In 2009 Food & Wine magazine awarded Charles “Winemaker of the Year” and in 2010 Seattle Magazine recognized Charles as their “Winemaker of the Year.”
The Labels: Edgy, black and white wine labels have become synonymous with K Vintners & Wines of Substance. Easily distinguishable from a distance, in a sea of other wines, the “K label” has been a packaging coup from the first day it was released. This success is the result of the collaborative efforts of Charles Smith, providing the concept and Rikke Korff taking the concept and making it a creative reality.
K Vintners: The key features of the K Vintners label include the very graphic stark black & white color language as well as the crafted and rough hand-drawn letters that more often than not find their way off the edge of the label. The hand drawn and individually hand placed letters are not only used on the larger and more prominent logos, but they are used everywhere, down to the alcohol % and the government warning.
About Rikke Korff: The Label Designer and Friend
Rikke was raised in Denmark and exposed to simple and functional Danish aesthetic her whole life. Having extensive design training, she was headhunted out of design school during her last 6 months to begin a career at Levi Strauss & Co. where she became Design Director for the global premium lines before leaving to start her own design house. Rikke has been friends with Charles for over 17 years now and when he decided to start K Vintners, he asked Rikke to assist with all the visual aspects of the brand, from winery restoration and tasting room looks to the logo and label ID and execution. “My style of design has always been and is always rooted in the pure perspective of functionality, timelessness & simplicity. I blend that well with the guts & raw directness of rock n’ roll to create future icons and cult brands.” Rikke Korff