2018 Recipient – Paraiso Vineyard/Smith Family Home Ranch

In 1973, Richard and Claudia Smith pioneered the planting of 300 acres of benchland in what would become the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in Monterey County. Their choice of varieties consisted of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling, all of which became hallmark varieties for the region.

Over the years a stellar client list of wineries including Morgan, Francis Ford Coppola, Jackson Family Wines and Hess Collection have garnered numerous high honors for wines made from grapes from this distinctive cool climate vineyard. As the Smith’s vertically integrated their operation, this vineyard also became the source of the family’s wines produced under the Paraiso Springs and Alexander Smith brands, selling up to 15,000 cases annually.

Richard was a pioneer and leader in many ways. He was an early adopter of sustainable farming, having his fields among the first Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Certified vineyards in Monterey County. The site features solar power prominently in its operation. Richard was a prime mover in establishing the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA which became official in 1991. He was a well-known leader on many levels, President of the local Farm Bureau, President of the CA Association of Wine Growers, and a charter member of the National Grape and Wine Initiative as well as Wine America.


Past Recipients

2017 – Dutton Ranch Home Vineyard
2016 – Vineyard 1869/Original Grandpere
2015 – Navarro Vineyards, Anderson Valley
2014 – Bechthold Vineyard, San Joaquin County
2013 – Deaver Vineyard, Amador County
2012 – Monte Rosso Vineyard, Napa Valley
2011 – To Kalon Vineyard, Napa Valley
2010 – Bien Nacido, Santa Maria
2009 – Ridge Vineyard – Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains