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9 Wineries that Donote Proceeds to Charity
- General Interest
- Written by Fred Swan
- Sunday, 05 December 2010 22:45
The California wine industry is extremely philanthropic. Some wineries support charities by donating bottles or tasting experiences to benefit auctions. Others, or their owners, “give back” through generous direct donations of cash or land. A growing number of wineries make donations that are directly tied to the sale of their wine.
Sales-based donations may not be as dramatic as an auction lot which sells for tens of thousands of dollars. And the scale of the donations are a lot lower than those made by legendary winery owner/philanthropists such as Bob Trinchero and August Sebastiani. However, sales-based giving can still be significant and allows consumers to participate, knowing that their purchase of a particular wine will help somebody.
If you’d like to complement your own direct charitable donations by purchasing wine or helping charitable wineries in some way, here are nine wineries to consider supporting (in alphabetical order):
Canine Wines donates $5 to animal rescue agencies for every bottle sold. The winery offers a range of wines, mostly from respected single-vineyards. I’ve not tasted any of the current releases, but have enjoyed several of their wines in the past. Each wine features an irresistibly cute picture of a rescued dog on the front label and the dog’s tale on the back label. A bottle would make a charming holiday gift for your wine-drinking, dog-loving friends.
Charity Wines teams up with professional sports stars to create “collectible” wines. Think baseball cards that come with wine instead of stale bubblegum. Past wines include ZinfandEllsbury (Boston Red Sox player, Jacoby Ellsbury), Cabernet Glavingnon (Atlanta Braves pitching great, Tom Glavine), Dan Marino Vintage “13” Chardonnay and, for old-school wrestling fans, Jimmy Snuka Superfly Cabernet. Proceeds go to support charities selected by the player. I’ve not tasted any of the wines but, at the every least, they would make an amusing gift for the sports fans in your life or look good next to your bobbleheads. There are several dozen labels to choose from. Charity Wines claims to have donated more than $1.6 million dollars to charity so far.
Cleavage Creek Winery
Cleavage Creek Winery donates 10% of their gross profits to breast cancer research. To date, their contributions exceed $70,000. The wines, which range in price from $18 to $50, are made from Northern California grapes and feature attractive (but tasteful) pictures of breast cancer survivors on the front labels. Cleavage Creek Winery also has a tasting room that you can visit in Pope Valley (northeast from Calistoga in Napa Valley).
Curvature Wines is another label that donates proceeds to breast cancer research. A joint venture between LPGA golfer Christie Kerr, who focuses many of her charitable activities on breast cancer, and Suzanne Pride Bryan who is both a breast cancer survivor and one of the owners of Pride Mountain Vineyards. Their current offering is a limited-production 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. While there is just one wine, different packaging options are available including magnum and 3-liter bottles as well as a three-pack of 750ml bottles signed by Christie Kerr.
Ehlers Estate is unique in that the winery actually belongs to a not-for-profit foundation. When founder Jean Leducq passed away in 2002, he left it in trust the the foundation that he and his wife, Sylviane, had started in 1996. As a result, 100% of the proceeds from from Ehlers Estate wine sales go to cardiovascular research. The winery, located north of downtown St. Helena, uses organic and biodynamic growing practices in growing Bordeaux grape varieties. Their tasting room is open by appointment daily and the wines are excellent.
Emtu Estate is a very small winery in Forestville (Russian River Valley) owned and operated by John and Chris Mason. The husband/wife team produce very nice Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rosé of Merlot wine from the grapes grown in their 3 acre backyard. All the profits from sales of their wine go to charity through their Labyrinth Foundation. When the Masons aren’t busy with the winery or caring for the rescued birds of prey housed on their property, they travel around the world helping in communities of need. For more information on Emtu Estate read our detailed profile.
Humanitas is a Napa winery that also has a unique approach to philanthropy. Humanitas' profits all go to charity, but the charity that gets the money from your purchases is based in your own community. Humanitas works primarily with national charties that have local chapters all over the country. It gives directly to those chapters as dictated by sales. The winery also lists a large number of specific charities on its website and, if you wish, you can designate that some of the proceeds go to one of those. You do that by buying the wine from the Humanitas site and entering a specific promo code at checkout. The agencies supported include food banks, Habitat for Humanity and groups that support at-risk children.
Lookout Ridge raises the bar on the sales-based giving. While the other wineries mentioned in this article donate some or all of their proceeds to charity, Lookout Ridge literally gives more money to charity than it takes in. For every single bottle of Lookout Ridge wine purchased, the winery gives a wheelchair to a needy individual. The buyer of the bottle (or the recipient if it's a gift) also receives a certificate and a photo of someone who has received one of the wheelchairs. Lookout Ridge relies heavily on donations of time and material from winemakers, vineyards, and other suppliers. If you can help in some way, they would love to hear from you.
Lookout Ridge offers a variety of wines produced from vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties. Each wine is made by a high-profile winemaker such as Greg LaFollette, Andy Erickson and Cathy Corison. The wines are not cheap at $100 each. However, they are excellent (90+ points) and the cost of acquiring and distributing the wheelchairs, not to mention the wine production costs, is higher than the $100 bottle price. See our profile of Lookout Ridge which includes reviews of two of their wines.
One Hope Wine
One Hope Wine donates half of all profits to charity. Causes supported by these charities include children’s hospitals, United States military veterans and their families, and the fights against AIDs, breast cancer, autism and global warming. Specific causes are clearly identified for each wine, so you can allocate your dollars according to your preferences. The wines themselves are all varietals with general California designations except for a Pinot Noir that is from the Arroyo Seco AVA (Monterey County) specifically. To date, One Hope has contributed more than $350,000 to charity.
Just one more thing...
There's one more project I'd like to mention here, but it doesn't involve the sale of wine. Cellar Magic is a unique philanthropic wine project of Mara LaFollette (winemaker Greg LaFollette's wife). Cellar Magic wines aren’t for sale. They are all given away. Mara says, “We believe that man does not live on charity dollars alone, we want our teachers, medicos and firefighters to enjoy the fruits of our labor by having a glass of wine with their meals.” To that end, the wines are donated to community organizations such as Palmdrive Community Hospital, the Cancer Foundation, Electric Car Foundation and schools for holiday dinners, other special occasions and, occasionally, benefit auctions.
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