Blending wine with Philanthropy


Some organizations just have the ability to perform good deeds.  United State Marine Corps come to mind, the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, but the wine industry also stands out as a group of people who never seem to tire of doing good for the world.
I’ve never heard of a Celebrity Beer auction–I’m not saying they don’t happen but I’ve never heard of one–and don’t get me wrong, beer drinkers are wonderful people, but in 2012 the top-10 wine Auctions raised $26 million for charity.  That’s the 10 biggies, there are hundreds, if not thousands more, and they help fund children’s education, cancer research, art museums, hospitals, food programs and opera companies.
Giving back to the community can take many forms.  Some are one shot efforts, such as wine donations to the above Charity auctions.  Others take a longer-term approach, selecting either groups or causes they wish to support over the span of years.  The Trinchero family of Trinity Oaks Wines, for example, has the One Bottle One Tree program.  You buy a bottle of wine, they plant a tree.  They work with an organization call Trees for the Future and so far have planted over 8 million trees.  These trees help change people’s lives by giving them income, fuel, increasing animal habitat, and stabilizing water supplies.
Cavivintas Winery’s tag line is “Blending Wine with Philanthropy,” so, yeah I stole it.  Even their name is a clever blend: the combination of the Latin term for Charity and the French word for wine.  20% of the purchase price of a bottle of Cavivintas wine goes to help support older dogs, pit bulls and other high-risk dogs.
Ehlers Estate vineyard is totally owned by a charity called the Leducq Foundation.  The vineyard was owned by Jean Leducq who passed it on to his foundation.  100% of the proceeds go back to the foundation, who’s stated mission is to improve health through international cardiovascular research.
These charitable deeds aren’t limited to just vineyards.  Liquor stores do a tremendous amount of charity work and fund-raising.  One local shop to me just sponsored a tasting of all 90-plus rated wines.  All the proceeds from the door went to the Lion’s club, plus 10% of any sales made during the tasting.  I have seen many other local establishments organizing wine tastings and wine dinners to benefit charities.
Today’s wine was brought to my attention by one of my co-workers, we call her Alpha.  This wine was made and sold to benefit the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire.  Being an animal rights activist she purchased far more bottles than she would ever drink on her own so I became the beneficiary of her passion for animals.  The wine was made in New Hampshire at the Grape Time Winery, which grew from a micro-Brewery called IncrediBREW.  The wine had a very nice deep color, nothing of a nose, good enough taste–I defiantly could taste bananas–and a slightly bitter finish.
The wine is a Pinotage and hails from South Africa.  It’s a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Rhone’s Cinsault from “Hermitage,” hence Pinotage.  The plan was to develop a grape with the flavor of Pinot Noir that was easier to grow.  The result is a red wine with a deep red color, a taste of banana’s paired with other tropical fruit, and unfortunately sometimes an aroma that smells like paint.  This is a 100% new world grape not found in Europe.  It is often used in blending (“Cape” Blends) and is also used in making a fortified port-style wine.
Now, I’m not saying that Wine people are the most charitable people in American.  All in all Americans gave away $286.91 billion to charities.  Some of the statistics I learned from the Politics of Giving were very interesting; the poorest state in America, Mississippi, gave the second most of all states to charity.  Connecticut the richest state in the Union was very near the bottom in charitable gifts.  The number one most benevolent state was Utah.  Vermont dead last, in fact all of New England states were near the bottom of the charitable list.  Conservatives were more generous in there giving than Liberals.  Religious people donate more to charity than non-religious people.
So, what is it about wine that brings out the charitable side of people?  I think there is something about wine that fosters communal harmony.  Most wine drinkers I know don’t drink alone; they like to share the wines they discover.  Marketing research shows that spirits and beer drinkers tend to be very brand loyal, they like Bud or they like Jack Daniels.  Wine drinkers are looking for something new almost every time, even if they are not particularly adventurous, they end up being so by default as every vintage is different.  Wine drinkers talk to one another, it’s that need to reach out and talk that lead me to writing this blog.  I found something  good and I wanted to share.  Wine growers tend to be smaller and more local, more attached to the environment and community.  They are more approachable so they are easier to talk to about your cause and enlist their support.   WE are saving the world one glass at a time!  Well done, Carry on!

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