Ask Jeff Smith what he does and he’ll tell you that he brings order to chaos. On a given day, the Beverly Hills-based wine consultant can be found sorting through thousands of wine bottles from a variety of countries, regions, vineyards, varietals, and vintages—an activity that might seem a bit overwhelming to some. Add to these variables the location in which he works—a relatively cold room (approximately 55ºF) with little light and moderate humidity (between 50%-70%)—and there aren’t many people who would choose to do what Smith does.
Known as “the wine cellar guy,” Smith operates in a realm with which many are unfamiliar. Having seen hundreds of private collections across the country, he has formulated some of the best opinions on what works in the cellar world and what just doesn’t cut it. Whether it’s consulting on the design of a home wine cellar, filling it up to create a dream collection, selling wines that have fallen out of taste, or rescuing cellars from organizational distress, he’s done it. “It’s like seeing pictures at an exhibition,” says Smith. “Collectively, they make sense and they reveal something about the owner of the collection—where they are in their collecting history, their tastes, their level of passion and investment in wine. My role is to help them achieve the fullest expression of their aspiration.”
In many ways, a wine cellar is like a fingerprint, unique to the individual. It chronicles travels, ups and downs in one’s life, and can represent personality traits as expressed through buying tendencies. Whether you’re one for dark and complex wines with hints of blackberries, sage, and loam, or more of the light, fruit-forward type who prefers notes of citrus and rose petals culminating in a crisp finish, Smith is there to assist. When it comes to the world of wine, Jeff Smith has seen it all and, in the process, has changed the way we view wine cellars.
(Pictured): Jeff Smith and an array of wine cellars he oversees. Images courtesy of Carte du Vin Wine Cellar Management.