Steve Smith, MW, Hall of Fame Recipient 2022

After studying Horticultural Science at Lincoln University, Steve began his career in wine as a Research Viticulturist under the legendary Richard Smart at the Ministry of Agriculture in 1980.

In 1987 he became the Group Viticulturalist for George Fistonich’s Villa Maria group, a time that he describes as teaching him how to do big things on little money. During his time at Villa, Steve became the first Viticulturalist to pass the prestigious Master of Wine exam.

In 1998 he left Villa to join the Peabody Family to create one of Hawke’s Bay’s iconic wineries, Craggy Range. During this time Steve threw himself into the wider regional wine affairs.

He was the founding chair of the newly established Gimblett Gravels Association, Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Wine Awards, Chair of the Pinot Noir Conference, Board member of New Zealand Winegrowers, and Chair of Judges for the Air New Zealand Awards. In fact, during the decade of the noughties, it seemed that if there was a significant wine event happening then Steve was in the Chair!

Steve’s reputation as a free thinker was also getting noticed outside of the wine industry and in 2012 Steve became more involved in the wider agriculture, fibre and food sector. He was one of the first members of the Te Hono network, established to determine ways to capture more value for NZ from our primary sector products. He spent time on the Primary Sector Council, Chaired the advisory panel for the Sustainable Future Food and Fibre fund, and was on the NZ Story group, helping to refine Brand NZ.

In 2015 he received the Prime Minister’s scholarship and used this to study innovation, new ventures and strategic marketing at Stanford University. And in 2017 he returned to his Alma mater as the Chancellor of Lincoln University.

2017 also saw a return to his roots when Steve established Aotearoa NZ Fine Wine Estates with Brian Sheth, establishing the new Smith & Sheth brand. In part because being outside of the wine industry made him realise how special the industry was. “Special because it captures everything I love.”

Steve has been recognised for his contribution to the NZ wine story having been awarded the Sir George Fistonich medal for services to the NZ wine industry, Honorary Life membership of Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers and Fellow of New Zealand Winegrowers.

Steve continues to leave his mark on our sector, through his energy, drive and vision for New Zealand wine and here in Hawke’s Bay actively promotes our Tūrangawaewae – our place to stand in the world.

Steve Smith, MW

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