2023 Rich Smith Award of Excellence Presented to Marty Clubb

Jason Smith, Donnell Brown, Marty Clubb, Jim Trezise, Vicky Scharlau, Kacy Smith and Claudia Smith

SACRAMENTO, CA, January 25, 2023 – The seventh annual Rich Smith Award of Excellence for outstanding contributions to the American grape and wine industry was presented today to Marty Clubb, co-owner and managing winemaker of L’Ecole No 41, a premium winery in Walla Walla, Washington, and a major contributor to the Washington and American wine industry.

The prestigious award annually reflects the spirit and accomplishments of the late Richard (Rich) Smith, founder of Valley Farm Management and Smith Family Wines in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands wine region. Rich was first and foremost a family man, but also a successful grape grower and winery owner, and a highly respected colleague known for the combination of passion, commitment and collaboration which helped advance the American grape and wine industry.

After Rich passed away in December 2015, WineAmerica initiated this award and invited two other organizations–National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA) and Winegrape Growers of America (WGA)–to collaborate with Rich’s family to create this annual award since Rich had been a loyal member of all three groups. The 2023 award was presented at WGA’s Annual Leadership Luncheon during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento.

“We are pleased to present this award to Marty Clubb, a WineAmerica colleague of my Dad,” said Rich’s son Jason Smith on behalf of Rich’s wife Claudia and daughter Kacy. “Not only did the two friends share a passion for our industry, but they also shared the innate spirit of collaboration which makes things happen.”

Marty has been deeply involved in both the Washington State wine industry and on a national level with WineAmerica for decades, in both cases serving in key leadership positions and demonstrating the power of collaboration. His involvement starts with the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and the Walla Walla Community College Viticulture and Enology program which is engaged in research and extension. On a state level he has served in key roles at the Washington State Wine Commission and Washington Wine Institute. And on the national level he has served as Treasurer, Vice Chair and Chair of WineAmerica’s Board of Directors.

“Passion, commitment, and collaboration are the qualities Rich exemplified and which Marty also shares,” said Jim Trezise, President of WineAmerica. “And like Rich, he is the ultimate nice guy. In addition, his commitment to quality has earned L’Ecole No 41 wines international acclaim, which reflects positively on his region and state.”

Representing the Winegrape Growers of America, Vicky Scharlau added, “Marty not only believed in collaboration; he also practiced the concept with enthusiasm. He led by example with decades of involvement in both state and national organizations that lifted the entire industry to greater heights. We owe him a debt of gratitude for this continued work to represent our collective best interests.”

Donnell Brown, President of the National Grape Research Alliance, said, “Marty’s reputation for excellence precedes him. He’s well-known in wine and grape circles, and as a driver for quality, seeking to raise the bar for the industry in general and for Washington State in particular.”

The actual Rich Smith Award is a solid bronze, circular depiction of Rich holding a glass of wine in a vineyard mounted on a large marble back, emblazoned with the words, “Rich Smith Award of Excellence” plus “Passion, Commitment, Collaboration” and the name of the recipient.

Prior recipients, starting in 2017, were: John Martini, Anthony Road Winery, Finger Lakes, New York; Pete Downs, Family Winemakers of California; Jerry Lohr, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Paso Robles, California; Jim Trezise, WineAmerica, Washington, DC; Donniella (Donnie) Winchell, Ohio Wine Producers; and Tom Davenport of the National Grape Cooperative, Westport, New York.