It probably goes without saying, but Smith Design is full of creatives. In our new Smith Spotlight blog series, we’re highlighting the talent of our team and their endeavors outside of our studio. Follow along to get to know the people who make Smith Design awesome.  

Our sixth Smith Spotlight features our adventurous Dave Bolton, showing off his incredible wine knowledge!

Dave’s love for wine started in his last year of college when he needed a few more credits in the earth science category for graduation. He decided to try out Geography of Wine, which he thought was going to be an easy A, but it wound up being extremely hard. There was a 2-hour lecture once a week followed by an hour of tasting. The final included a blind taste test of the wines in which he had to know important information about each one. He was originally going to school for communications and theatre, which is what he graduated with, but once he got out of school, he found himself in the wine industry and absolutely loving it and thriving!  

Dave started out in restaurants, teaching classes, and speaking with representatives to curate the restaurant’s wine list. He eventually ventured off into working at Ohio Valley Wines (a Cincinnati wine distributor) as a sales representative. He travelled and sold wine in the region for 10 years, selling to restaurants, country clubs, hotels, fine wine retailers and more.

Working in the wine industry opened a lot of amazing career and travel opportunities for Dave. He was flown out to California for training where he found himself having beautiful dinners in vineyards and caves. He even went to France! He was one of twelve people chosen from the top salespeople in the US, Canada, and Mexico by the Louis Latour Winery in Beaune, Burgundy to attend seminars about wine, with all expenses paid, including fine dining, wine-cellar tasting, and so much more.

While he was there, the company even wound up paying for him to visit Paris because their idea was that “you couldn’t visit France and not go to Paris!” Talk about perks!

Eventually, Dave discovered a new career path and went into branding, but he never lost his passion for wine. While working in NYC, he also taught classes about wine at NYU and Columbia. It felt natural moving into a career in branding because of his experience in the wine industry. He realized that he had spent so much time creating compelling stories to sell and differentiate different wines that in a way he was already working in branding – the only difference was the product.

Even though Dave has moved away from the industry, wine will always be close to his heart. Selling something that he really loved and believed in, meant that it never felt like a “sales job” to him—it was an opportunity to share his passion. Dave has learned a lot through his experience in the wine industry, but the greatest piece of advice he would give is to “drink it how you like”. While many people think that wine needs to be consumed a certain way depending on the style, Dave’s idea is that at the end of the day, it’s a beverage and it’s meant for you to enjoy however you like. The best way to learn about wine and figure out what works best for you is by drinking it and experimenting. Also, to be adventurous and never hesitate to ask for recommendations from stores, restaurants, or friends — or helpful coworkers.

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