Viki Eierdam blogs about wine, wineries and all things enological at blogs.columbian.com/corks-and-forks/
Through a fortuitous set of circumstances David Smith, winemaker at Burnt Bridge Cellars, took a strong interest in wine and turned it into a second career. Already in a winetasting group with good friend and business partner, Mark Mahan, Smith ventured into a winemaking supply store with his wife, Julie, during a Walla Walla family visit.
Smith said, “I had an interest in chemistry, biology and wine. (I) decided to make wine in my basement and it snowballed from there. We decided to buy fresh grapes, instead of a kit, from a newer vineyard being managed by Norm McKibben (an icon in Walla Walla, responsible for the original grape plantings of Pepper Bridge Winery and Les Collines).”
For the last 20 years Smith has dedicated himself to oncology research, so the chemistry behind winemaking was not a stretch, though the subtle nuances of great blending is a whole different realm — one that he did not approach lightly. He began educating himself by reading extensively, enrolled in University of California Davis distance courses and eventually earned a graduate certificate in winemaking.
His wine style can be summed up in one word: traditional. From winemaking methods to the Rhône and Bordeaux varietals from which he enjoys crafting award-winning blends to his favorite food pairing, lamb with their signature Rhône blend Pont Brûlé. Running a close second is their full-bodied Les Collines Viognier, whose flavors of stone fruit complement “decadent lobster” or freshly caught Dungeness crab.