SOUTH COUNTY — After 30 years of making its own wine, Smith Family Wines will discontinue producing the Paraiso, Irie and Alexander-Smith labels and close the tasting room at the Paraiso Vineyards on Paraiso Springs Road in Soledad.
“At our core, we have always been grape growers,” said Jason Smith of Smith Family Wines and the president and CEO of Valley Farm Management. “Besides the Paraiso Vineyards, we grow another 2,700 acres of wine grapes in the valley from Gonzales to Bradley. We will continue to grow wine grapes and sell them to the many great winery customers we have had over the years as well as new wineries looking to discover the great quality that comes from Monterey County.”
Smith’s father Richard Smith and his wife Claudia moved with their children Jason and Kacy from the San Jose area in the early 1970s to start a business producing grapes. The business became Valley Farm Management.
“We planted the vineyard in 1973 and started making wine in 1989,” said Jason Smith. “We recently received the Green Medal Award for sustainability, and we have had a drive to become 100 percent sustainably certified at all our vineyards and we accomplished that this year. Sustainability certification is a third-party certified designation that shows that our operations are run with careful attention paid to the environment, economics and social responsibility with our employees, neighbors and community.”
Last year Paraiso Vineyards was named Vineyard of the Year at the California State Fair.
According to Smith, Valley Farm Management has many employees that will continue to work in producing wine grapes at the local site and at the other vineyards the company owns.
“We are about 70 full-time employees with seasonal increases to 150 plus,” Smith said. “My sister Kacy is leading the employee Wellness Program and we continue to work hard to provide the best working environment for our employees as well as give back to our community that we are blessed to work with and in.”
Smith and his family have enjoyed being hosts at the tasting room that featured some wonderful wines and some of the best views of South Monterey County. The large tented party area was a great venue that was rented for parties by families and businesses.
The tasting room is set to close next Friday, July 26.
“For sure what we will miss the most about the wine-producing business is sharing our hospitality and meeting people from all around the world,” Smith said. “We of course will still be in business … but there was an intimacy around hosting people at our tasting room that will be missed. Although we will be closing the tasting room on July 26, we will still be selling wine online at our Smith Family Wines website until we are sold out, which will probably leave a supply through the end of the year.”