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Rod Smith MW

Rod Smith MW

Became an MW 2006

Based in France

Nationality British

Languages English, French, Italian


Born in 1968, Rod came to wine, as so many people in the UK trade, through a Christmas vacation job with Oddbins. In Rod’s case this was in 1987, whilst studying at Chelsea School of Art.

After completing his degree in illustration and graphic design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Rod found himself with a part-time job working for Oddbins in London whilst establishing himself as a freelance illustrator. An increasing love of wine won the day, however, and he followed a career path from Oddbins branches via its head office marketing department to the then owner Seagram. Here he worked as Brand Manager for a variety of wines as part of the wine team.

After the sale of Seagram, Rod worked in various positions and established a consultancy business involving wine education and marketing. During this time he studied for and passed the Master of Wine examinations, and took part in many wine tours, tastings and challenges.

In 2005 Rod returned to full-time employment when he joined the fine wine importer, Mentzendorff, a company largely owned by Champagne Bollinger, as its French Wines Manager. At this time he completed his Master of Wine dissertation, taking as its subject ‘Chenin Blanc in Anjou-Saumur’, partly as a result of dealing with the wines of the area on a daily basis. He was awarded this, the world’s most prestigious wine qualification, in November 2006, the 296th person to achieve it since 1953.

Rod moved to the South of France in 2007 to lead the Wine Team for Vins Sans Frontières, the leading supplier of wine to the superyacht industry. The idea for the Riviera Wine Academy was born when he started organising wine tastings, events and dinners for some of the most prestigious and discerning clients on earth as a result. Rod continues to enjoy living and working in the Côte d’Azur.

Rod has been extensively involved in judging wine competitions. A current Panel Chair for the Decanter World Wine Awards, he has been a Panel Chair for the International Wine Challenge, and has also judged for the Moscow Russian Wine Fair, the Balkans International Wine Challenge, the Shanghai International Wine Challenge, Texsom (Dallas), Shanghai Wine100, Guangzhou Golden Bottle Awards, and Guest International Judge at the prestigious Sydney Royal Show.

Rod is an enthusiastic and committed educator, marketer and public speaker on wine. He has travelled and presented about wine widely including many trips to China and the Far East.

His personal interests include cycling, running, travel, literature, card magic and film.

Current employer: Riviera Wine Academy SASU

Primary area(s) of work: Strategy, Communication

Industry sector(s): Project management, Marketing, PR, Sales, Distribution, Business owner, Off trade, On trade, Journalism, Author, Educator, Consultant, Wine judge, Wine tourism

Wine styles: Fine and rare wines, Sparkling wine, Champagne, Cremant, Sweet wines, Fortified wines, Port, Sherry, VDN, Madeira, Still white, Still red, Still rosé, Still wines

Wine region expertise: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Baden, Casblanca Valley, Central Otago, Chile, Colchagua Valley, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary Tokaj, Limari Valley, Lombardy, Marlborough, Mosel, New South Wales, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, South Australia, USA, Victoria, Western Australia, South America, France, Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Languedoc, Roussillon, Loire, Champagne, South-West France, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Galicia, Spain, Jerez, Italy, Maipo Valley, Piedmont, Tasmania, California, Washington, Oregon, Provence

Market expertise: Europe, United Kingdom, China, France

Specialisms: Commercial advice on vinyard establishment, Economics of wine production, Marketing wine, Investment strategies, Financial and commercial structures, Supplier/customer relationships, Identifying and meeting consumer demand, Routes to market, Distribution, HORECA, Direct to consumer, Supermarket and multiple retail, Independent retail, Events, Podcasts, Food and wine pairing, Wine labels, Wine tourism, Branding, History of wine, Wine judging