Charles Smith Wines Jet City

Field Trip Report: Charles Smith Wines Jet City.
February 17th, 2017

What we learned:

“Today I had a great experience visiting Jet City Winery, I learned about the Missoula Floods, and the effect they had in what is Eastern Washington today. I learned the different types of acids that exist in wine and why malolactic fermentation is necessary all red wines.

I also learned the effect that yeast has in wine and life in general. We tasted different barrel samples from different great labels including K Vinters, Charles Smith, Sixto, Substance. Everything was a great experience thanks to Nick and all the BTB.”

– Jonathan V.

“I was very impressed with Brennon’s operation at Charles Smith Jet City. I have respected Brennon’s winemaking for nearly a decade now, and it was a real treat to see what he is creating in this gorgeous space.

I am a native Seattleite with great pride in Washington State. However, I usually gravitate toward drinking old-world wine primary from France and Italy. With my first sip of 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from barrel I knew I was in good company. It was so satisfying to taste through wines from my home state of Washington that truly spoke to my soul. Brennon sees perfection in a wine’s imperfection. It’s a wine’s faults that make it interesting to him, and I love this concept.

For example, a reductive wine will change throughout the entire meal. Not only would you get to enjoy a delicious bottle of wine, but to have each glass be a different experience? Heavenly. This was a great way to spend a Friday afternoon, and I look forward to more field trips with Nick and the Medium Plus crew.”

– Alexa S.

“I learned that Charles Smith Wine went through a lengthy and expensive process to procure barrels that meet their needs perfectly.  They use only French oak barrels that are made up from the 6 different forest in France. They do this to achieve a specific grain size in the wood. They also collaborate with the coopers ( the people who make the barrels) to make custom barrels!!”

– Dan M.


“A state of the art facility, with amazing volumes of wine produced in quantity. They have a well-defined style, nicely established. Their native yeast fermentation is interesting as well.

– Ken A.

“Our time spent at Jet City was filled with great conversation, spiked by barrel-samples of the diverse portfolios by Charles Smith and Brennon Leighton. Our tour was led by the man Brennon himself, who was very generous with his time and knowledge. Some of my takeaways:

  • Volatile Acidity (VA) and Ethyl Acetate (EA) both have their place in a great wine. Something that is overly perfect lacks personality, and these compounds can offer some special nuance.
  • Stainless-steel barrels are used as transport devices, for topping up barrels during the aging process.
  • The “Ancient Soils” of Washington state exist at high elevations, which avoided the glacial impact of the Missoula Floods.
  • Washington’s Evergreen Vineyard is the largest single-vineyard of Riesling planted worldwide.
  • Kung Fu Girl is one of the brands that Charles recently sold to Constellation brands. The wines are still made by the Charles Smith operation for use by Constellation, although they are not offered at the tasting room.
  • Jet City features barrels of various sizes, including 250L, 400L and 600L.
  • A Sauvignon Blanc we tasted from barrel was blocked from Malolactic fermentaion, in contrast to a Chardonnay. All reds go through the Malo process, as they need the softening conversion of Malic to Lactic acid to maintain a soft character.

Additional thanks to Beatrice and Monica from Jet City, who helped to make our visit even better.”

– Nick D

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