Smith, who grew up in a farming family, founded Saxum Vineyards with his wife, Heather, in 2002. The family had farming roots in Paso Robles long before that, however. Smith's father planted James Berry Vineyard in 1980.
“Justin’s influence on the region beyond what he has achieved with his personal brand (Saxum) is incredible and inspiring,” said Terry Hoage, winemaker and proprietor at Terry Hoage Vineyards in an alliance news release.
“His input along with the other wine industry pioneers has helped raise the level of quality coming from our region to a point that now, we all benefit from the resultant national and international notoriety,” Hoage continued. In addition, the Smiths are noted for their local philanthropy, Hoage wrote.
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Smith has won previous accolades.
In 2011 he was named the San Luis Obispo County Agriculturist of the Year by the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau. At the time the bureau said Smith represented a new generation of winemakers and called him a "visionary who has changed the region and has set the bar high for himself and his peers."
In 2009, Smith received a perfect 100-point score from Robert Parker for his 2007 vintage James Berry Vineyard Proprietary Red. The James Berry Vineyard 2007 was also on a Top Wine of the Year list by Wine Spectator magazine in 2010.