Published: 1 years 198 days ago
Grower: Carson Smith
Growing Region: Central Valley
Not one to hog the spotlight, Carson Smith believes in sharing the credit for growing great winegrapes on his Madera County vineyard.
The secret to his success? Great employees. “The employees are one of the things I like best about what I do,” says Carson. “I think you learn a lot from employees. They’re the ones who are going to figure out how to do something a little better or tell you that there’s a problem before you find it yourself. I think they’re critical to getting everything to come out right in the end.”
Armed with a degree in agricultural economics, his real education comes from the more than 30 years he spent managing other vineyards before leasing his own land. In the past, Carson oversaw as many as 10,000 acres of vineyard land. Today, he’s content to farm on a much smaller scale.
“I’m really enjoying getting back to the hands-on, day-to-day smaller decisions that I couldn’t do when I was managing large acreage before. It’s getting back to the kind of farming that I missed.”
Carson names French colombard as his favorite variety to grow “because it produces so well and is fairly consistent in the market.” Viognier is a close second “because it’s new to me and has opened up relationships with new wineries and new challenges in terms of growing practices.”
Carson describes his idea of wine bliss this way: “My favorite way to celebrate with wine is a leisurely Saturday lunch, with any good white fish and a good sauvignon blanc.” He likes to drink “straightforward” white wines with fruit tones and not a lot of oak and “any good red.”
Favorite season: Spring. “The vineyard changes every day at that time of year.”
Favorite hobby: Riding cutting horses.
Industry leadership: Chairman, San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers
What he loves most about growing grapes: “The constant changes. I think I’d get bored doing a lot of other jobs.”