First Richard R. Smith Perpetual Award Presented to John Martini

SACRAMENTO, CA, January 25, 2017—The first-ever Richard R. Smith Perpetual Award for major contributions to the American grape and wine industry, and to research, was presented today to John Martini, co-owner of Martini Vineyards and Anthony Road Winery in New York’s Finger Lakes region.

The presentation was made by the Smith family at the annual Leadership Luncheon of Winegrape Growers of America, which co-sponsored the award with WineAmerica and the National Grape and Wine Initiative. The luncheon was held during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, the country’s largest industry conference and trade show.

The late Richard “Rich” Smith was the founder and co-owner of Paraiso Vineyards and Smith Family Wines in California’s Monterey region. He was also a very active member of all three sponsoring organizations as well as many others on the local and state levels. He was widely known and revered for his passion for the winegrowing industry, commitment to enhance its future, and collaboration with colleagues to achieve that goal. Those three words—Passion, Commitment, Collaboration—are on the award, which will be presented annually to a person reflecting Rich’s defining traits and huge accomplishments for the common good.

Rich’s family—wife Claudia, son Jason, and daughter Kacy—presented the first annual award to John Martini. Claudia Alexander Smith said, “I maintain fond memories of board meetings in D.C. with much ‘pounding the pavement’ in teams with the Martinis as we visited our Congressional representatives on behalf of Winegrape Growers of America and WineAmerica. John Martini never ceased to amaze both Rich and me with his boundless enthusiasm to build not just his and Ann’s dream business in the Finger Lakes, but the grape and wine business in every state across America. And it has changed from a few states growing wine grapes and making local wines, to every state having a healthy robust wine business. John continues to be very active with both those organizations to this very day, as well as the National Grape & Wine Initiative. Rich is surely smiling to see John Martini, with Ann by his side, receive this ‘Rich Smith’ perpetual award on behalf of WA, WGA, NGWI and Smith Family Wines.”

Jason Smith commented, “Our family is honored to have my Dad’s commitment to this industry represented by this perpetual award. John Martini is the East Coast version of my Dad…true dedication, passion and love for the industry, the community and most importantly his family. His tireless work and ability to put others before himself made this selection easy for the Richard R Smith Award. We know my Dad is raising his glass of pinot noir in celebration of this great achievement and recognition.”

Like Rich Smith, John Martini is family man first, a grape grower second, and winery owner third who shares a passion for research. John and his wife Ann started their Martini Vineyards on Seneca Lake in 1973 and opened Anthony Road Winery in 1985. Similar to the Smith family, the Martini’s run a family business in which their children have become co-owners and deeply involved in all aspects from production to finance and marketing. In fact, the rotating images on the home page of feature images of John and Ann, and another including all the generations. In addition, the Martini’s treat all their employees like extended family.

Also like Rich, John has been active in all three sponsoring organizations and many more on local and state levels. He has served as Chair for both NGWI and WGA, was President of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and New York State Wine Grape Growers, and has served for many years on the Board of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. The best way to describe John is that, “He’s always there.” When, for example, the NGWI Executive Committee would meet in Sacramento for a day, he would take a 5 am multi-segment flight from upstate New York, attend the meeting, then take a red-eye back home—before driving his van five hours to New York City to sell wine directly to consumers at Union Square Greenmarket.

“Rich and John are basically bicoastal spiritual brothers,” said Jim Trezise, President of WineAmerica, which initiated the award. “They first met through WGA in the early 1980’s and immediately developed a strong bond centered around their love for family, winegrowing, the community it creates, and the joy of working together for the common good. They are people you can always count on.”

Todd Newhouse, Chair of Winegrape Growers of America, said: “There isn’t a more deserving and more fitting recipient for this prestigious award than John Martini. John has always given more time than is expected to our national industry on both the winery and vineyard sides. When it comes to national issues, including research, he understood there shouldn’t be a distinction between wineries and vineyards because we are all one industry. No one understands that more than John.”

To select the recipient of the Richard R. Smith Perpetual Award, all three organizations and the Smith family were invited to submit nominations, with representatives from the three groups and the family making the final selection. There is no requirement that the recipient be associated with any of the three organizations, just that he or she has made major contributions to the American grape and wine industry while demonstrating the key characteristics of Rich Smith.


Tara Good and Michael Kaiser Named Vice Presidents of WineAmerica


MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Kaiser,

Washington, DC, December 12, 2016—Long-time WineAmerica staff members Tara Good and Michael Kaiser have been elevated to the role of Vice President effective December 1.

Since joining WineAmerica in 2012, Tara Good has held the positions of Manager of Member Services and Director of Operations. Her new position as Vice President reflects her expanding responsibilities representing WineAmerica on Capitol Hill and across the country.

“Tara has been a leader in the organization,” says Trent Preszler, CEO of Bedell Cellars and Board Chairman of WineAmerica. “She has emerged as the industry expert on the important issue of music licensing. Her unique background demonstrates an ability to respond and adapt to the changing political climate in Washington D.C. and the needs of the American wine industry.”

Good entered government affairs as an assistant at the Distilled Spirits Council in Washington, D.C. A two-time recipient of the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, she studied Arabic in Jordan and Oman. She previously managed Middle Eastern and North African cultural programming for the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles. A native of Sonoma County, California, Good received her B.A. from Fordham University in International/Inter-cultural Studies and Theater. Following graduation, she worked several years in New York City theater, including as an assistant on the Broadway show Golda’s Balcony. She received her M.A. from New York University in Performance Studies where she studied the intersection of religion and government.

Michael Kaiser joined WineAmerica in July of 2006 and has held a variety of positions with the organization over the years. Michael was first hired as the Manager of Regulatory Affairs, to assist WineAmerica with issues related to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Since then he has held the positions of Director of Communications and most recently Director of Public Affairs. He also represents WineAmerica on the board of Free the Grapes and the National Grape and Wine Initiative.

“Michael has been an essential member of the WineAmerica team for over ten years,” says Chairman Preszler. “He has a wealth of knowledge in the regulatory and legislative realms, and will continue to be an indispensable resource to the American wine industry.”

Prior to joining WineAmerica, Kaiser provided research and logistical support to two Washington, D.C. based lobbying firms. He also handled compliance issues with a major political party. Michael earned his B.A. in American Studies and Political Science from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and a M.A. in Political Science from American University in Washington, D.C.


WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

WineAmerica Appoints Jim Trezise as President in 2017

Washington, DC, December 5, 2016—The Board of Directors of WineAmerica has announced that wine industry veteran Jim Trezise will become the organization’s President starting in January 2017.

WineAmerica is the national organization of American wineries, representing wine producer members from 43 states with grassroots public policy advocacy in Washington, DC.  WineAmerica held its 2016 Fall Meeting in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and was honored to be joined by Congressional Representative Suzanne Bonamici and Senator Ron Wyden, who is spearheading legislation to reduce wine excise taxes.

“We’re delighted that Jim has agreed to assume a more formal role with WineAmerica,” said the organization’s Chairman of the Board Trent Preszler, PhD, who is CEO of Bedell Cellars on Long Island.  “Jim is well-known and highly respected throughout the American wine industry, as well as among influential public officials, and his commitment to our industry is unparalleled.”

Trezise is transitioning from his 31-year position as President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF) to an increased role with WineAmerica, while remaining President of the International Riesling Foundation, judging in major wine competitions, and continuing his involvement with other wine industry organizations and activities.

He will orient his NYWGF successor, Mr. Sam Filler, in the first quarter of 2017 while undertaking increased involvement with WineAmerica during that time.  Jim has served on the WineAmerica  Board of Directors and Executive Committee  for over 20 years, and has devoted substantial additional  pro bono time to the organization in recent years.  He also serves on the Boards of several other major industry organizations such as FIVS, the National Grape & Wine Initiative, and Wine Market Council.

Over the years he has received several national awards for his contributions to the American wine industry, including the ‘Grand Award” of the Society of Wine Educators; the “Wine Integrity Award” from the Lodi Winegrape Commission; the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Society of Enology and Viticulture; and the “Perpetual Monteith Trophy” (Thomas Jefferson Cup) from the Vinifera Winegrowers Association.  He was also named one of “The 20 Most Admired People in the American Wine Industry” by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine; and one of the “Top 50 Movers and Shakers” by Wines & Vines magazine.

“This is a major step forward for WineAmerica,” said Caroline Shaw, WineAmerica’s immediate past Chair, and Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Jackson Family Wines, who first suggested this idea.  “Jim’s long experience with WineAmerica, success in public policy advocacy, familiarity with key public officials, and involvement with many other industry organizations will strengthen our impact.”

Jim will work closely with WineAmerica’s current staff, Director of Public Affairs Michael Kaiser, and Director of Operations Tara Good, along with government affairs counsel Meyers & Associates.  His involvement will be selectively targeted at opportunities which offer the most promise to advance the interests of the American wine industry.  He will travel to Washington, DC and other locations as needed, but will be operating from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York on a day-to-day basis.

“WineAmerica is truly a vital organization for advancing the interests of the American wine industry,” said Trezise. “While I have been involved for a very long time, I’m pleased that I will have more time to devote to its important activities in the future.”

WineAmerica’s Fall meeting was organized and hosted by Janie Brooks Heuck, owner of Brooks Wines, and included a special listening session with leaders of the Oregon wine industry, as well as updates on all public policy matters and the Presidential election outlook.  WineAmerica’s next meeting will be in Washington, DC in May  with a focus on educating the new Administration and legislators about the American wine industry’s priorities.


Media Contacts:  Trent Preszler,; Jim Trezise

Family Winemakers of California and WineAmerica Announce Revised Joint Membership

Two organizations involved with public policy affecting the grape and wine industry—Family Winemakers of California, and WineAmerica—announced a revised joint membership program at the 2016 WIN Expo on December 1 in Santa Rosa, CA.

Family Winemakers focuses primarily on State-level issues, while WineAmerica’s focus is on federal policy in Washington, DC. A joint membership allows wineries to support, get information from, and be represented by these organization on both levels. The two organizations have had a joint membership program for several years, but the new revisions are intended to make it more affordable and attractive.

The new initiative was announced by Pete Downs, Acting President of Family Winemakers, and Jim Trezise, a long-time member of the WineAmerica Executive Committee, as part of a special presentation they gave on major policy developments in both Sacramento and Washington. Downs had also served on the Executive Committee and Board of WineAmerica for over a decade, so knows both organizations well.

“This is a logical fit,” he said. “We need eyes and ears, and feet on the ground, in both Capitols, and the joint membership is a great way to accomplish this.  Another benefit of WineAmerica is that it represents wineries in more than 40 states so has broad national reach legislatively.”

To become a member of Family Winemakers, wineries pay 6 cents per case, with a minimum of $300. To add the WineAmerica benefit, it’s an additional 2 cents per case, with a minimum of $100. Both memberships are through Family Winemakers, which then sends WineAmerica its share.

“WineAmerica’s broad-based membership around the country is a unique advantage that no other wine trade association has,” said Trezise. “Wine Institute, which is a great partner with national reach, nevertheless represents only California wineries, so we can add dozens of other states to create a much stronger coalition.  More than 80 of 100 U.S. Senators have WineAmerica member wineries in their states, and we like to remind the legislature of that.”

WineAmerica also has a State and Regional Associations Advisory Council (SRAAC) involving heads of trade associations throughout the country who regularly compare notes on what is happening in their states, and how they can help one another.  In addition, WineAmerica has retained professional government affairs counsel Meyers & Associates to protect and advance the industry’s interests.


WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

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TTB Issues Guidelines for Elimination of Bond Requirement

By Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs


The TTB has issued initial guidelines for the elimination of the bond requirement for certain alcohol producers. As part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, wine producers that are expected to pay $50,000 or less in federal excise taxes in a year will be exempt from the federal bond requirement. The TTB was mandated by law to issue guidance on the new bonding rules by December 31. The guidance that was issued yesterday clarifies the procedures wine producers who qualify for the exemption will need to take in 2017. WineAmerica worked for the passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, and you can read our analysis of the provision here. 

The TTB has stated that existing producers who will meet the new bond exemption must inform the TTB they are eligible. Producers can start amending their permits to reflect the bond exemption after January 1, but they cannot do that until they have paid all of their 2016 federal excise taxes.  For NEW producers, if someone sends in a permit application before January 1, 2017 they will NOT be eligible for the bond exemption.
The TTB has updated the COLAs Online system to allow for easy amendment to existing permits. If wineries wish to amend their permits on paper, that is also an option.
WineAmerica expects to see more information about the bond exemption before the end of the year.
 For more information please contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs,


WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

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