[In the spirit of giving, this wonderful image didn’t cost me anything. When I need an image, and I’ve not be able to take it myself, I turn to professionals. I prefer to buy those images, rather than copying and pasting from the Internet. I don’t unwittingly want to steal someone else’s intellectual property, as I’ve had enough of my own stolen and know how it feels. I’ve also taken Web designing classes at Santa Rosa Junior College. A good Web 101 course teaches you ethics along with design. So, in the spirit of giving, this image is the intellectual property of James Brey. Rather than charge anyone for his smallest version, he’s giving it away. This is the FIRST time I have encountered this kind of professional give-away, when searching on a specific concept. For me, it was James’ bit of “philanthropy,” for the good of this posting to enhance it. So, here’s a Shout Out to James Brey!]

The whole “shout out” thing is so ridiculously funny, because what civil creature really shouts these days; but philanthropy is seriously cool, so here goes within the wine industry.

I became inspired to write when my April Food & Wine issue arrived, toward the end of March. On page 20, the news & notes section, written by Christine Quinlan (senior editor at Food & Wine Magazine), is entitled, Grape Causes.

I immediately thought of my friends at Cleavage Creek. Proprietor Budge Brown, who has lost his wife to breast cancer, has taken his pain and turned it into action… hence, “Cleavage Creek.” Budge gives a percentage of his profit from his wines to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research. When I heard about this, it was a big, “Ah…” moment for me.

Donati Family Vineyard has also raised and donated money for breast cancer research in the past that I’m aware of. I don’t know if it’s ongoing, but I remember one specific effort.

My own philanthropy is focused on donating a lot of volunteer hours to the group that I founded (with the blessings of Louis Foppiano), PS I Love You. This group is so small and so grass roots, supported by so few dedicated wineries who produce PS, that it can’t possibly pay for all the hours that Diaz Communications gives toward running a 501-C6 non-profit. Every month, I give back to the wine community that otherwise supports me. I question myself, sometimes. Am I given to a cause that’s substantive enough… helping humanity? It of course isn’t helping humanity, but it is helping the west’s agricultural history, so I keep plugging along. I tend toward helping community issues, rather than people in complete and utter distress… I don’t know why.

  • In Lewiston-Auburn Maine, I organized the planting of community gardens at the ends of the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, on both sides. There’s a granite monument on the Auburn side of the bridge that honors Vietnam Veterans. Jimmy McMorrow, the first love of one of my sisters, is listed, as is Jimmy McGonagal. I went to St. Patrick’s school with both of them, and they went together in war. I had reason to leave gardens in their honor, and I did that through the Lewiston-Auburn Chamber of Commerce, now called the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. It was a two year project, complete with landscape architects and city counsel meetings with both communities.
  • In Portland, Maine, I established a scholarship for immigrants and refugees through the English as Second Language Program at the University of Southern Maine. Portland is a port of entry for the world’s tired and weary. When I learned that the only job an immigrant surgeon could get was at a meat packing plant, I went into action. It took me almost three years to get it established, but I did it through  he Portland Maine Rotary Club.
  • As the director of Androscoggin Day Camp for Girls Scouts, I found a safe piece of property for my 200 kids and 50 staff members to be during the summer, versus being on a dangerous, alcohol drinking site that was being used the first year I arrived. By the second year, I was named the camp’s director… The hours I gave to staffing, organizing, and executing the set-up, take down, and curriculum were all volunteer hours; unless you call being given $200 to do all of that, under the umbrella of Girls Scouts of America, as being “paid.” I figured it out. I got paid less than $1 an hour.

Little things along the way, to make the world a better place… So, I ask myself about once a week, “Could I be doing more for the wine industry.” I’m not sure, but I question myself a lot.

Shining a spotlight on others who are humanitarians is a good stress release for me, during my wondering process. I’m delighted that Food & Wine has given me an opportunity to tell anyone reading my blog about the great things being done to make this world a better and more equitable place.

Meals for Hungry Kids immediately caught my eye. Boisset Family Estates, through DeLoach wines, my neighbor right here in Sonoma County, is buying three meals for a family who is in need, for every bottle of wine that they’re selling. So… when you buy a bottle of DeLoach wine you, too, are contributing to feeding hungry children, through the Feed the Children hunger-relief program, with which DeLoach is involved. They’ve delivered 1.2 million meals to children who are hungry in the US.

Winetowater.org, founded by Doc Hendley, is a wine tasting program that raises funds to build wells and filtration systems in places like Darfur and Uganda. This organization also makes wine… Hum… Petite Pourings for Petite People (something for kids may be where I’m headed). I’m inspired by Doc Hendley, a young bartender who is a community crusader. He’s providing clean water to communities worldwide. Through his creative fund raising efforts, his nonprofit Wine to Water has brought sustainable water systems to 25,000 people in five countries.

Twitter has teamed up with Crushpad. During the month of April, they are previewing Fledgling Wines. What it is, from their site: “The Fledgling Initiative aims to make awesome wine for the benefit of Room to Read, a non-profit organization extending literacy and educational opportunities to children worldwide. Every case of Fledgling wine sold will help promote literacy in Uttarakhand, India.” You can join the Webcast tasting and buy wine by visiting their Fledgling Wines site.

Diageo, which owns Sterling and Beaulieu Vineyards (and more), has funded a Spirit of Americas project, by Diageo. There was  more than 45,000 pounds of food and emergency supplies delivered to earthquake victims in Haiti, on January 15, 2010. Diageo’s commissioned 727 aircraft departed Miami as part of Diageo’s Spirit of the Americas Humanitarian Aid program. This is an ongoing effort to deliver critical assistance to disaster zones and communities where Diageo’s employees and their families work and live.

Washington’s O Wines helps at-risk students, by donating all of their profits from it’s Chardonnay ($13) and its red blend ($15) through college scholarships. From their site:

O Wines was established in 2006 by Stacy Lill and Kathy Johanson.
Our Mission: fund scholarships for underprivileged young girls.
Our Vision: establish a local Academy for motivated young girls otherwise unable to realize their dream of a higher education.
Our Goals: donate a portion of the proceeds from O Wines to fund scholarships and build their dreams.
Our Dream: stop the cycle of abuse of women who were not afforded the privilege of higher education due to their economic circumstances.
O Please help us to educate, motivate, and give our young girls the confidence and opportunity they deserve to succeed through knowledge!

An article I just read on WineBusiness.com: Wine Industry Contributes to Chilean Relief Efforts:  Latest includes May 16 Fundraiser at Quintessa Winery (Napa Valley winery owned by the Huneeus Family). Quintessa is hosting a fundraiser May 16 featuring food by Alice Waters, a tour of the winery and a sampling of great wines, entertainment and auctions. Proceeds benefit Hogar de Cristo, which provides direct aid to some of the least fortunate people in the devastated areas of Chile.

The wine company list in this article reads like a Who’s Who, and is clearly a reflection of whom in the US is working with Chilean wines, and realizes the importance of sharing the wealth right now.

  • TGIC Importers ~ From Alex Guarachi, President/Founder, “Though it has been weeks since the world first learned of the Chile earthquake disaster, our team at TGIC Importers has not forgotten. We have created a new program that will match our initial $50,000 donation through the wine fundraising of our Chilean brands. I invite you to participate and help Chile rebuild.”
  • Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. will be contributing to the global effort to help aid Chilean earthquake relief efforts with a donation to a charity. President Mel Dick of the Wine Division for Southern Wine & Spirits of America is quoted in the WineBusiness.com story as saying, “We are eager to do our part to assist those valued employees and families in the Chilean wine industry during their time of need.”
  • Banfi Vintners has made a statement: Banfi Vintners will donate $150,000 to Levantando Chile (Raise the Roof for Chile). In addition, Banfi is encouraging distributor partners to join in supporting relief efforts through several strategically run programs. Not least, the company is working closely with friends and colleagues at Concha y Toro on specific initiatives and funding designed to help employees and their families in Chile to rebuild their lives following this disaster.

I have to thank Christine Quinlan for her inspiration and research at Food & Wine for this story. The only wineries I could personally add to the list are Cleavage Creek and Donati Family Vineyard.

Do you know of others?

Please help me add to this list, and shine a little light in their direction, too. Thanks!

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