Ben Smith: Head Winemaker

Our team is made up of passionate people, all with their own journeys and stories. We’re looking at how they made it into the wine industry, what makes them tick, and maybe even some insight into their favourite wine!

We recently sat down with none other than Mr Ben Smith, our Head Winemaker and sustainability sleuth, to understand his mission and what he aims to achieve with Itasca.

For someone who was a dedicated beer drinker until his second year at uni, Ben has certainly made his mark on the world of wine since then. Inspired by the creativity and endless possibilities of making good wine, he’s driven Itasca’s unique sustainability and regeneration mission and is leading our commitment to quality.

“It can be very easy to sit back and follow the crowd, but we chose to challenge convention and follow our gut.”

Ben’s journey started at the highly respected Plumpton College, but it was through working at wineries worldwide that he honed his skills and developed his craft. He had the opportunity to work with Andrew Hedley at Framingham in New Zealand for a couple of harvests, and this experience led him to become a winemaker.

Ever modest, Ben acknowledges his numerous industry awards (including Gold Medals from the IWC and WineGB) with a healthy dose of humility. That said, he recognises the significance of his achievement in producing England’s first—and so far only—perfect 20/20 score for a wine: his 2018 Chardonnay. It was a great “coming of age” moment for English wine, a broader recognition of what so many of us had known, or at least put faith in, for years. 

Ben’s favourite wine is a Riesling.

“I’m a Riesling freak – it is so versatile, making anything from steely bone dry styles to some of the world’s great sweet wines.” 

Despite having tasted priceless library wines in the cellar of Roulot in Meursault, Ben assures us that a Mosel Kabinett Riesling in Magnum from JJ Prum would be the one wine he’d happily drink for the rest of his life. That is until he’s produced something even better himself.