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New Zealand’s Steve Smith MW awarded honorary doctorate

New Zealand’s Steve Smith MW awarded honorary doctorate

New Zealand wine industry stalwart and Master of Wine Steve Smith was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University at its 2024 Graduation on Friday, in recognition of his outstanding contribution as an alumni and Chancellor, and his successes in the New Zealand wine industry.

Born in Southland and raised in rural Canterbury, Smith graduated with distinction from Lincoln University in 1984 and has gone on to forge a 40-year legacy in the New Zealand wine industry including becoming the first viticulturist in the world to achieve the Master of Wine qualification, co-found and steer Craggy Range for 16 years and be named twice in the list of 50 most influential people in the world of wine. In 2017, he launched wine brand Smith & Sheth with friend and American entrepreneur Brian Sheth, one of three prestigious brands under their Aotearoa NZ Fine Wine Estates business. He also partnered with Sheth in the purchase of Pyramid Valley and Lowburn Ferry and leads the business for all three brands.

Smith took on the leadership of Lincoln University as its Chancellor over 2016-2018 at a critical time of financial jeopardy and led it through a period of transformation to a bright re-focused future. In awarding the doctorate, the University said of Smith’s tenure, ‘While Steve has been described as the right man at the right moment to ensure Lincoln University capitalised on the transformation opportunity, nothing happened simply by magic. Steve brought a remarkable portfolio of governance experience, professional development, commercial acumen and business success to the task with which he was entrusted.’

A long-time love of academia and governance saw Smith undertake multiple intensive professional development programmes at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and he has held several ministerial appointments to government and sector bodies including Fit for a Better World with Aotearoa New Zealand Agriculture, Food and Fibres Sector, and was Chair of the Sustainable Food and Fibres Future Fund. ‘By far the most challenging but also the most rewarding was my three years at Lincoln University where we used all my Stanford learnings to lead the reinvigoration of the university and its role in New Zealand society. Today it is thriving, when many are not.’

The latest honour follows his induction to the New Zealand Winegrowers Fellows for services to New Zealand wine in 2021 and the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Hall of Fame in 2022. However, he is not resting on his laurels and views the next 15 years as the most prolific in his career. ‘Being outside the wine industry for a short time made me realise how special the industry is. Special because it captures everything I love. The three properties we now own are, to my eye, amongst the world’s finest Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah estates. Our vision is to capture that potential, producing fine wines through the lens of nature that can only come from these places. Pyramid Valley especially has the potential to become one of the most revered Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producers in the world. That right there is my purpose in wine for the rest of my life.’


For further information contact: 
Natalie Grace 
Brand and Marketing Manager
Aotearoa NZ Fine Wine Estates
Mobile: +64 22 341 2050