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 www.anthonyroadwine.com 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.