clark smith mit

Clark Smith MIT Stories

clark smith MIT

Clark Smith has a Noam Chomsky story to tell.

Clark Smith is in the studio for California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger. Today he tells his MIT stories and more. The Clark Smith MIT story begins with his first two years of college, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This podcast episode is from the portion of the live show where Clark tells his personal story. Clark’ last appearance on CWC was this episode of last March.

The rest of Clark’s conversation with Steve and Dan is about the wines he brought in today, so that has its own podcast episode, here.

Clark Smith dropped out of MIT after two years and we finally hear the story today. At MIT, the senior faculty teach the Freshman courses. So he had Noam Chomsky for Linguistics, Francis Crick for microbiology, and several others. The trouble came when he had to declare a major at the beginning of his junior year, after earning straight As his first two years. He wanted to create his own major that combined science and art in some way. Today, that is a common practice in universities but at that time, he was not able to do it. So he dropped out thinking he would take a year to figure it out.

The One-Way Cross Country Trip

That is when Clark and a friend drove across the country and he ended up getting a job in a wine shop in Oakland. Someone asked him about a bottle of Paul Masson Emerald Dry wine. He didn’t have the answer, so he started tasting the wines, eventually all of them.

There were 250 wineries in the US and he visited a lot of them, maybe “all” of them. One day while visiting a winery he told his wife, that this was his calling. He is happy to have found the art plus science angle he was looking for. After that, he completed the BS and MS programs at UC Davis. Then he helped found RH Philips winery and he started his WineSmith consultancy.

davis bynum

Click the logo to visit Davis Bynum Wines.

When he was working for Benziger, their owner needed to find non-alcoholic wine. So he bought a reverse osmosis machine. One of the big problems of winemaking up to the 1970 was how to get rid of VA, Volatile Acidity, i.e. vinegar. In 1960 the average wine in California was 18.5% ABV, mostly Port and Sherry but that was before enough people learned how to really do it.

There is great wine coming from places like South Africa and Australia, but most of the best product stays in the country of origin.

rodney strong

Click the logo to visit our sponsor Rodney Strong for info on the 2024 Summer Concert series.

Visit Clark’s website to see the section about Forgeries and Oddities. Forgeries are wines that he makes exactly like wines from other places. His Cabernet Franc is Bordeaux style, made like a St. Emillion, and his Cabernet Sauvignon is made like a Pomerol. The Oddities are wines made from rare grapes you’ve never heard of, like Norton.

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