The Rich Smith Distinguished Service award honors the legacy of an icon in the U.S. wine industry who was integral in the creation of Winegrape Growers of America, WineAmerica and the National Grape Research Alliance. The Boards of the three organizations collaborated to honor the spirit and legacy of Rich Smith. Smith, from California’s Monterey wine region, was founder of Valley Farm Management, Paraiso Vineyards and Smith Family Wines.
Smith, who died in 2015, was dedicated to the wine and grape industries, earning a reputation as a leader. The award recognizes those whose contributions have benefited the American grape and grape products industries by exemplifying the qualities that set Smith apart including:
- Fostering collaboration
- Nurturing a community of grape and wine industry experts
- Addressing widespread issues or problems, in harmony, addressing issues that unite
- Working as a change agent: creating systematic, positive change through research, public policy, consumer awareness or volunteerism
- Displaying leadership
- Demonstrating support for diversity and community
Past winners are a who’s who of the U.S. wine industry:
- 2017 – John Martini, Anthony Road Wine Company
- 2018 – Pete Downs, Family Winemakers of California
- 2019 – Jerry Lohr, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
- 2020 – Jim Trezise, WineAmerica
Nominations must include the nominee’s background, business information related to the grape and/or wine industry, involvement in causes or groups, and accomplishments benefitting the industry.