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12 C and Myriad bottles (1)Myriad Cellars and Quivet Cellars have joined the 2015 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest as signature vintners for the SWFL Children’s Charities’ two-day signature event, scheduled for Feb. 27 and 28, to raise funds for local children’s charities.

Mike Smith founded Myriad Cellars, which is based in St. Helena, California, releasing his first vintage in 2005. He and his wife, Leah, created Quivet in 2006 to showcase single-vineyard wines. Both wineries feature limited production, which means those who attend the event are in for a rare treat, since the wines arenÔÇÖt widely available.

Wine Fest signature vintner Mike Smith“Mike Smith’s passion for winemaking is evident in the complex and well-balanced wines he produces,” says Elaine Hawkins, who is heading up this year’s event with Dorothy Fitzgerald. “We believe this is a great pairing as his passion matches ours for the children’s charities we support.”

Renowned wine critic Robert Parker has rated several of Smith’s wines in the mid- and high 90’s and commented, “Everything suggests this guy, Mike Smith, knows a thing or two about what a great wine is all about.”

Of Myriad’s Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Reserve Elysian cabernet sauvignon, Parker wrote, “a puff and a whisper away from pure perfection.” He awarded the wine 99 points.

Smith, who describes himself as a “purist” in style, became interested in wines while in college. It wasn’t long before he became a collector and found his way to an internet trading site for cult wines. There he met Thomas Brown, then the winemaker at Turley Wine Cellars. When Brown later struck out on his own, Smith offered to work for free to learn from his accomplished friend.

After three harvests and crushes as a volunteer — during which he took a break from working in his own family’ business of delivering legal documents — he accepted a job with Brown as assistant winemaker and moved his family to St. Helena.

Smith and Brown continue to collaborate on a variety of labels, including Schrader, Rivers-Marie, Maybach and Tamber Bey. Meanwhile, Smith has plenty to keep him busy in his own vineyards.

Smith considers himself a wine crafter, as opposed to a winemaker, because he allows the subtleties of the grapes to determine how the wine develops rather than manipulating it with additives or technology.

“Every year throws you curve,” Smith says. “It’s always different. But if you take the best fruit, you don’t have to do a lot to it.”

Finding vineyards where the soil and climate will lend themselves to growing extraordinary grapes is one of his passions and something he clearly does well.

“Part of the fun is finding vineyards that have potential,” Smith says.

Smith also is the winemaker for Quivet Cellars in St. Helena, and Carter Cellars and 12C, both specializing in wines produced from single vineyards and lavished with the same personalized attention Smith’s Myriad and Quivet labels receive.

One of his Carter Cellars wines won a rare 100 points from Parker, with five others earning scores of 95 or higher.

While he appreciates the praise he receives, Smith is a strong believer in giving as well. Charitable causes are an important aspect of his business. Smith says 5 percent of Quivet sales go to charity, and he frequently contributes to causes such as Little League auctions and other not-for-profits in his community.

He has been involved in the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest for several years because he likes the atmosphere and enthusiasm of the event.

“It seems very organic,” Smith says. “Everyone has a great time and it goes to a great cause.”

The two-day Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest begins with Chef-Vintner Dinners held Friday evening in host homes from Naples to Captiva. The Grand Tasting and Auction will be held Saturday afternoon at Miromar Lakes Beach Clubhouse in Estero. Funds raised during the auction benefit local charities. More than $11.6 million has been raised during the past six years. The primary beneficiaries are Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Florida SouthWestern State College’s pediatric nursing program and Florida Gulf Coast University’s music therapy program.

The title sponsor is LTC Global Inc. Additional sponsors include FineMark National Bank & Trust, SKANSKA GATES, and Sam Galloway Ford Lincoln. Event contributors are Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club, Palm Printing/Printers Ink, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, Angelina’s Ristorante, Jason’s Deli, Preferred Travel of Naples and Norman Love Confections.

For more information, contact SWFL Children’s Charities Inc. at 239-513-7990, or visit