Wine Charities: For the Love of Wine

Since grade school we’ve all heard the fatigued proverb, “It’s better to give than to receive.” Most of us wouldn’t argue with that, at least not publicly. Privately however, well, who doesn’t want free stuff? In truth, the wine industry is a magnanimous group, routinely called upon to provide free juice for charity auctions, public and private tastings, festivals and most anyplace where wine is poured and people want to imbibe at little or no cost. These three west coast wineries showcase the dedication of making wine, making changes, one bottle, and one person at a time.

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Wine with Wheels: Lookout Ridge
As a teenager Gordon Holmes began his lifelong fascination with wine by purchasing futures. Not your typical adolescent activity. He worked in a high end wine shop in Los Angeles where the wealthy would buy wine to lay down. “They would tell me how magical those wines were,” Holmes recollected. So he decided to save his money. Beyond saving money, Gordon made money as a Wall Street publisher and eventually started his own winery, Lookout Ridge in Sonoma. He currently produces syrah, pinot, cab, and sangiovese. His first vintage was 2001 and his wines were made by Greg LaFollett. Simple enough.

A few years later he was at a charity event. “Someone spent $1,500 for a single bottle of my 2001 pinot noir and those proceeds went to the Wheelchair Foundation,” he says. As it happened, Gordon’s wife, Kari, was already sequestered in her own wheelchair fighting a fierce battle with multiple sclerosis. The couple began to donate more money to the Wheelchair Foundation and eventually secured a shipping container of wheelchairs that Gordon distributed in Mexico.

“That’s what changed my life,” he states. “I cry at dog food commercials so the fact that I cried for several days after seeing the problems in Mexico was no big deal.” Gordon and Kari decided for every case of wine sold at Lookout Ridge, they would donate a wheelchair to the Wheelchair Foundation. But Gordon tends to think in broader strokes. “One day it hit me, why can’t I put together the Bob Dylan’s of the world, the rock stars of winemakers?”

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

He enlisted some of the top winemakers in Sonoma and Napa including Cathy Corison and Andy Erickson, winemaker’s who have worked at legendary wineries like Staglin Family, Screaming Eagle, and Stag’s Leap. And he changed tactics.