Home Industry News Economics Nominations Open For 2024 Grape & Wine Industry Award of Excellence

Nominations Open For 2024 Grape & Wine Industry Award of Excellence

Nominations are now open for the Rich Smith Award of Excellence, which honors the legacy of an icon in the U.S. grape and wine industry. It recognizes an industry representative who exemplifies the passion, commitment and collaboration Rich Smith was known for and who has had a similarly positive impact on the industry. Nominations must be submitted online by October 27, 2023.

Rich was co-founder, with his wife Claudia, of Valley Farm Management, Paraiso Vineyards and Smith Family Wines in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands wine region. But he also was known for his efforts to collectively advance the grape and wine industry. He was integral to the founding of the National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA), WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America (WGA). These three organizations serve to solve industry challenges through research, policy and advocacy. They annually join with the Smith Family to confer the Rich Smith Award of Excellence, each organization’s highest award.

Past winners are a who’s who of beloved and respected leaders in the U.S. grape and wine industry:

2023 – Marty Clubb, L’Ecole No 41

2022 – Thomas (Tom) Davenport, (retired), National Grape Cooperative/Welch’s
2021 – Donniella (Donnie) Winchell, Ohio Wine Producers Association
2020 – Jim Trezise, WineAmerica
2019 – Jerry Lohr, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
2018 – Pete Downs, Family Winemakers of California

2017 – John Martini, Anthony Road Wine Company

Nominations must include the nominee’s background, business information related to the industry, involvement in causes or groups, and accomplishments benefiting the industry. Find complete eligibility and nomination information in the online nomination form:https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GLQ693K.

Nominations are due by October 27, 2023. The winner will be announced at the WGA Leadership Luncheon on January 24, 2024, in Sacramento, CA, during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium.


The National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA) was organized in 2005 as a strategic planning organization for research to strengthen the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of America’s grape and wine industry. The nonprofit organization unites all grape sectors including raisin, juice, table and wine grapes together with researchers and grant funders in a unique collaborative effort that focuses on initiating game-changing, national-level research to advance the industry. For more information, visit graperesearch.org.

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