Remembering Jean-Mari Peltier

This time of year, the sponsoring organizations of the Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award meet with Claudia Smith and Jason Smith, wife and son of Rich Smith, to plan the annual award honoring his legacy. It’s always a welcome opportunity for us to recall a remarkable leader and his positive impact on our industry, and invite others to do the same.

Rich helped to form NGRA (as well as WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America, co-sponsors of the award), reaching out to growers he knew who, like him, believed in science as a means to advance the industry. Most of those he inspired to join and shape NGRA (then the National Grape and Wine Initiative, or NGWI) are still active members of the organization. But we’ve just lost the executive he helped to hire, who spoke at his memorial service and who set the template for what remains a vibrant national research organization. Jean-Mari Peltier (shown here) passed away on September 24, 2021.

Jean-Mari was the founding President of NGWI. She was hired in 2008 and led the organization for seven years, departing around the time of Rich’s passing to become Managing Partner of Environmental Solutions Group. She remained active in agriculture and with the table grape industry in the Central Valley, including with the Consolidated Central Valley Table Grape Pest and Disease Control District. Our hearts are with her family. (As of this writing, an obituary has not yet been published.)

I never had the opportunity to know Rich (his passing preceded my involvement in NGRA) and I didn’t know Jean-Mari well. But those who did know them will be quick to regale you with tales of their big personalities, broad networks of colleagues and allies, and their tireless efforts to advocate for and advance the grape and wine industry. For myself, I can say that Jean-Mari never failed to have a warm and ready smile, wry wit, and a heartfelt compliment for anyone she met.

I invite you to remember Rich and Jean-Mari and others who have championed our needs over the years. Their imprint on NGRA and the industry at large will endure.