In 1974 the late Bill Smith wandered up a windy road on the Vaca Mountain range in Napa Valley and discovered the abandoned La Jota Vineyard winery. Falling for the beauty of the now famed Howell Mountain region, he and his wife Joan began their wine adventure. His first commercial vintage from this property under the La Jota Winery label was in 1982. Bill credits prominent winemaker Randy Dunn as being an initial early influence during his formative winemaking years after selling the La Jota winery in 2000, friend and winemaker Helen Turley inspired Bill Smith to try his hand at Pinot Noir. So and began the W.H. Smith label where he excelled in making primarily Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast region.
The first vintage of Maritime Ridge Vineyards—one of four vineyards—was harvested in 2002 and was released in the spring of 2004. W.H. Smith Winery now has four Pinot Noirs: a Sonoma Coast blend, Marimar Estate Vineyard, Hellenthal Vineyard, Umino Vineyard and the flagship Maritime Vineyard all from the Sonoma Coast appellation.
Bill sourced grapes from these vineyards which he felt gave Pinot Noir its truest expression.Bill was instrumental in the development of blending pinot noir clones after discrete fermentation process, using Clone 777, 828 and Salton115 among others. What followed was his expert blending technique that would become his signature Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.In addition, Bill felt a mixture of various vineyards created still more complexity, bringing out the best that each vineyard could offer while allowing for vintage consistency. His knowledge and wine making wisdom has been passed on to the winemaking staff at W.H. Smith with a pledge