in 1974 Bill Smith wandered up a windy road on the Vaca Mountain range and stopped in front of a beautiful old ghost winery, La Jota Vineyard Co. Falling for the beauty of the now famed Howell Mountain region in its rugged youth he and his wife Joan began their wine odyssey.
At first the venture was hard and pioneering; feet stomping grapes and hand bottling with the help of family and friends. Good memories were made but Bill and Joan yearned for more. A two acre vineyard was planted by hand with their crew of reluctant kids. Luckily, together they had 6 children and you could often find a few of them out in the vineyard trying to earn a few dollars ~ the going rate was $2.50 an hour!
In 1982, the first official vintage was produced as our own Bill Smith spearheaded mapping the boundaries and filings to establish the Howell Mountain Appellation. A vision and dream of both Bill and Joan had come to fruition and it was only the beginning for this Howell Mountain pioneer.
On top of Howell Mountain Bill and Joan built a new home with a view that showcased the term that now defines the micro-climate of Howell Mountain; "Above The Fog". In 2000 La Jota Vineyard Co. was sold and a brand new vineyard was planted, caves were excavated and a new crush pad was erected. A place where the W.H. Smith Wines Pinot Noir production which began in 1992 could evolve and compliment the Howell Mountain wine making portfolio permantly.