The 2024 Rich Smith Award of Excellence

Nominations closed October 27, 2023

Photo credit: Jenny Devine

Richard (Rich) Smith, founder of Valley Farm Management, Paraiso Vineyards and Smith Family Wines in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands wine region, was first and foremost a family man, and also a successful grape grower, winery owner and respected colleague. He was a highly effective, collegial and tireless leader whose significant and selfless contributions of time, energy and funds helped to shape public policy and scientific research to advance the American grape and wine industry. He passed away in December 2015.

Three of the organizations Rich helped to establish—the National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA), WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America (WGA)—annually join with the Smith Family to bestow the Rich Smith Award of Excellence. It recognizes an industry representative who exemplifies the passion, commitment and collaboration Rich was known for and who has had a similarly positive impact on the industry. For each organization, it is our highest and most coveted award.

Nominate a colleague who emulates Rich’s exceptional leadership. (Nominees need not be a member of any of the three conferring organizations.) Nominations closed on October 27, 2023. The 2024 Rich Smith Award recipient will be named at the WGA Leadership Luncheon on January 24, 2024, in Sacramento, CA.

Past Rich Smith Award Winners 
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
2021 – Donniella (Donnie) Winchell, Ohio Wine Producers Association
2022 – Thomas (Tom) Davenport, National Grape Cooperative (retired)
2023 – Marty Clubb, L’Ecole No 41