Matt is receiving absolutely no compensation for his work, and since this suit is taking so much of his time, he has almost no time left to work for paying clients. He is battling what Senior U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams called a whole "war party," including both in-house and outside lawyers for the Virginia Attorney General's office and lawyers from the Virginia Wine Wholesalers' Association.
He is doing an excellent job and stands a good chance of winning at the District Court level; but even if he does, he will still have to go through the appeals process, which can take years. The state is required to compensate him for his costs if he wins, but he will see nothing until all appeals are exhausted - and only if he prevails.
This suit, along with similar actions in several other states, has the potential to benefit not only wine consumers everywhere but small wineries in many states that have limited capability to distribute their wines, and even many retailers who are now limited in the wines they can carry by monopolistic distribution systems.
But to be blunt, in his hard and lengthy fight against aggressive opponents with very deep pockets, Matt Hale's pockets are dangerously short.
Several of the online wine community have put their heads together and come up with the idea of calling on wine lovers around the U.S. to dig as deeply as they feel they can afford to help with the effort. In addition to this, Linda Baldwin and Craig Potts have generously offered some wines from their cellars as gifts to some of the donors.
Here's how it will work: Individuals who wish to make a contribution may simply fill in and submit the form below. They will receive prompt verification of receipt of the pledge and information as to where to send the check made out to The Matt Hale Fund. These checks will be deposited in the Matt Hale Fund Account and dispersed to him as the checks clear. Please note that these donations are private gifts to an individual and thus are not tax-deductible. This is not a raffle or a lottery! The wine gifts are simply gifts, offered by cash contributors who wanted to enhance the fund-raising effort.
First, Linda will treat one of the donors to a two-to three-night getaway for four, all meals furnished, at her guest house in Powhatan, VA. (For more details, see the box and photo on this page.)
Second, Craig Potts will give three fine bottles of wine from his cellar to three other donors: A 1989 Chateau La Dominique St.-Emilion, a 1983 Chateau Raymond-Lafon Sauternes, and a 1983 Fonseca Port. A few other surprise wines may also turn up as gifts to generous donors.
Finally, Linda will offer as a special gift a true "cult" wine, the Harlan Estate 1991 Napa Valley Red Wine (pictured at left).
We have had a few generous offers from donors who ask to have the value of their gift, should they receive one, converted into cash and added to the fund. Unfortunately, since the wines are gifts from private cellars, it won't be practical for us to do that. However, if recipients choose to express their gratitude in the form of an additional donation, that would certainly be a generous act. For the record, those volunteers who are helping keep the records straight and operating the fund-raising site will not accept any gifts. In addition: All these volunteers are giving their time for free. There are absolutely no administrative costs to be deducted from the Matt Hale Fund. One hundred percent of the contributions will go to Matt Hale, who will also receive the small added bonus of any interest earned while donations reside in the Matt Hale Fund Money Market Account.
For official purposes, this fund-raiser is sponsored by, and a project of, The Wine Lovers' Page, published by Cliffwood Organic Works. Any inquiries should be directed to the Publisher.