Steve Smith MW, a trailblazing figure in the world of winemaking, boasts a career that has been nothing short of extraordinary. As the first viticulturist globally to attain the prestigious Master of Wine title, Smith has left an indelible mark on the industry.
Smith’s journey began with a fortuitous encounter with Richard Smart during an internship at the Ruakura Research Centre. Under Smart’s mentorship, Smith honed his viticultural expertise, embarking on a career characterized by dedication and innovation. His formative years were akin to a viticultural PhD, shaping his commitment to excellence.
In 1995, Smith set his sights on becoming a Master of Wine, a milestone he achieved a year later. This accomplishment opened doors and introduced a fresh perspective to the wine world—a viticulturist with a passion for marketing and wine.
In 1998, Smith’s career took another exciting turn when he joined forces with Terry Peabody to establish Craggy Range. This endeavor marked a significant shift, as Smith assumed a central role in running the business and crafting a brand platform for Craggy Range. The vision was ambitious—to create one of the world’s premier wine estates and have their wines gracing the tables of renowned restaurants worldwide.
During his 16-year tenure at Craggy Range, Smith’s dedication and innovation bore fruit, culminating in the creation of something truly exceptional. However, as he contemplated stepping back from the wine industry, he found himself drawn back in by the industry’s unique charm and the relationships he had cultivated over decades.
With United States billionaire and environmental philanthropist Brian Sheth, Smith embarked on a new adventure—Smith & Sheth. Together, they aimed to revive the British wine merchant model for New Zealand wine, tapping into Smith’s extensive network and revisiting cherished properties.
Under the umbrella of Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates (AONZ), Smith and Sheth acquired Pyramid Valley, Lowburn Ferry, and developed Omahu vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels. These estates, characterized by mesmerizing landscapes and meticulous viticulture, have become symbols of excellence in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah production.
For Steve Smith MW, this journey represents his lifelong wine purpose—a commitment to crafting exceptional wines that capture the essence of extraordinary places while having fun doing it. His legacy as a visionary in the world of wine is firmly established, and his passion continues to drive the industry forward.