The Charity Winemaker Movement: Support the Cause

Those of you that know me well know that I will never do a holiday wine recommendation column.  Not because I don’t want to help you pick out wines, but I think that one column or writer should not claim to tell you what you should be drinking for a special occasion.  It depends on what food you are serving, what wine you like, how many days the relatives are staying to gauge how strong the alcohol content should be, etc….  

However, we know that the season should be about giving and I wanted to spotlight a few wineries or wine businesses that have in their mission to give back to their communities.  I love their stories and will highlight a few of them for you today.

The first is Cleavage Creek Winery, which you may remember I featured after the untimely death of my aunt, Sue  who was fighting breast cancer.  Cleavage Creek is the story of Budge Brown, who lost Arlene, his wife of 48 years, to breast cancer.  Determined to do something to help others, he started Cleavage Creek winery, which donates ten percent of gross sales to cutting edge research to fight breast cancer.  Is he making a difference?  You bet.  Budge founded the Integrative Oncology Research Center on Bastyr University’s Campus in 2007 and has raised $72,000 to support breast cancer research.   I’ve reviewed these wines and can tell you that they make some great red and white wines.  You’ll find the stories of survivors on the label, and as of October, you can visit the new Cleavage Creek tasting room in Napa. 

Next is Charity Case Foundation, a movement put together by top winemakers from Napa Valley where all the juice, fruit and manpower are donated to make small batch, hand-made wines.  Jayson Woodbridge, the cult wine maker of Hundred Acre, Layer Cake and Cherry Pie fame, was the driver of this project.  One hundred percent of proceeds go to non-profits in Napa that serve children and families including Aldea Children & Family Services, Cope Family Center, Foster Kids Receiving Center and Wolfe Center Teen Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I have a bottle of Rose and Sauvignon Blanc that I meant to sample before this column.  I’ll share my experience in the near future since work and the holidays have cut back on my wine time.  However, the pedigrees of the winemakers stand on their own.

Finally, there is a new charity wine distribution model that brings small and family run wineries to a larger audience at a great price all while providing assistance to a select group of charities.   Cellar Angels is a free private membership program, but if you click the link, you’ll be eligible.  I’ve been trading emails for about a month with Martin Cody, the president, and I can tell you that there are some good wines that hit this site for a fraction of the price.  Only one wine is offered each week, ensuring only the best quality wines are presented and you get to choose your charity at check out.

Winemakers and people in the wine business are some of the most generous people I know.  I’ve seen them come together in times of disaster.  During the earthquake in Haiti, winemakers and wine people rallied together to donate countless bottles of wine to an auction to help victims.  Supporting these wineries and charity wine distribution models allow you to do your part for the community while drinking some good wines with a great story to tell.