On a Thursday night in January 2019, the Los Angeles Convention Center pulsated with energy as visitors wandered through the opening night of the LA Art Show. The annual event, which showcases local artists, international galleries and installations, doubled as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Regional producer 1849 Wine Company contributed to efforts by providing pours of its five wines, all produced in California.
The wine world knows how to rally around causes in creative and inspiring ways. For its Moobuzz Nourishing a Better Tomorrow National Turkey Drive fundraiser held in Sonoma, California, 3 Badge Beverage Corporation pledges to contribute one pound of turkey for every wine case sold. The company says it has resulted in more than 31,000 Thanksgiving meals donated last year.
Since 1998, the Rudd Foundation, founded by the late Napa wine magnate Leslie Rudd, sponsors a scholarship program in Kansas, along with public health and food policy research center attached to the University of Connecticut. The foundation says it also supports the Rudd Master’s Roundtable and a scholarship with the Guild of Sommeliers.
If you’re a socially conscious consumer looking to put your money where your mouth is, here are other inspiring examples of how to drink well while doing good.
Stolpman Vineyards, La Cuadrilla
Nothing about winemaking is easy, especially when it comes to cultivating and harvesting. Santa Barbara County-based Stolpman Vineyards has taken a unique approach to address fair labor practices in the industry and also encourage innovation within its team. Vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano launched the La Cuadrilla vineyard training program, in which field workers are each given their own block, or cuadra, to farm each year. Solorzano encourages workers to experiment with unconventional and sophisticated cultivation techniques.
The La Cuadrilla blend, which debuted in 2003 and is made solely using grapes from these training blocks, has produced nearly 3,000 cases in recent years. The winery expects this number to reach almost 4,500 for its next release in April. The company says that profits from the wine are shared directly with the agricultural workers. Also, the nonprofit La Cuadrilla Foundation, established by Solorzano and Peter Stolpman, aims to expand its impact on agricultural workers lives by offering support to education and public health initiatives.
Vino de Sueños
The collaborative wine project known as Vino de Sueños puts a focus on workers’ well-being and community mindedness at the center of its mission. It’s an outgrowth of People Helping People, an organization that has aimed to provide assistance and social support services to families in California’s Central Coast for more than 25 years.
Wines labeled Vino de Sueños, donated from participating wineries like Foxen and Ken Brown, are available each November, with occasional February releases as well. Vino de Sueños will be the official charitable partner at the Santa Barbara Vintners Wine Futures Tasting, held March 29–31 at Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort.
If the thought of habitat preservation warms your heart, look for bottles from Venice, Italy-based producer Gorilla Wines. From its Sicilian Gorilla Grillo to the Gorilla Reservation Appassimento blend produced in Puglia (a blend of Negroamaro, Malvasia, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), the company says a portion of proceeds go to support preservation work of groups like The Gorilla Organization in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo.
Bar Dog Wine
Pets make fantastic drinking buddies, and dog-friendly bars are in demand these days. So why not combine the two? Meet the irresistible appeal of Santa Rosa’s Bar Dog Wine. The producer says that sales of Bar Dog Cabernet Sauvignon (look for the Boston terrier on the label), Pinot Noir (French bulldog) and red blend (another lovable terrier) translate to donations to various animal charities. Organizations are selected in consultation with local distributors and retailers include Animal Rescue of the Rockies and Long Island’s North Shore Animal League.
Presqu’ile Winery, Rescue Wine Collection
Yet another example of the overlap between wine people and animal lovers, Presqu’ile Winery in California’s Santa Maria Valley began its Rescue Wine Collection in 2017. The wines are named after winners of its Spokesdog and Spokescat contest, whose photos are displayed proudly on bottle labels. The contest is held before the annual 5K9 Run and Walk held at the winery in October with the winners announced after the race. Last year’s release features a rescue pit bull on the winery’s 2016 Sophie Chardonnay, while a Tonkinese feline rescue graces its 2016 Ashley Pinot Noir. The company says that the events and wines raise funds for the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.
Wine industry executive Terry Wheatley, a breast cancer survivor, harnessed her expertise and passion to establish Purple Cowboy Wines, a brand that taps into her own family history. The president of Vintage Wine Estates and our 2018 Wine Star Award winner for Innovator of the Year, Wheatley donates a portion of Purple Cowboy’s profits to Tough Enough to Wear Pink. Wheatley, whose husband and son were both champion rodeo cowboys, helped found the program in 2004 to provide resources to those in the rodeo/cowboy community impacted by breast cancer. The charity says that it has raised more than $28 million to date, which has helped cover treatment costs, prevention and more.
Purple Star Wines
This Washington state winery earns karma points by giving back to the local community. Purple Star Wines co-founders Kyle and Amy Johnson earmark 15% of proceeds from sales of its Purple Star label goes to Seattle Children’s Hospital, specifically to patients and their families impacted by costs associated with uncompensated care.