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More wine charity

Note to self: In future, be cautious about broad generalizations.

Within minutes after Monday's Wine Advisor hit the mail with my comment about how rare it is to find a wine like 2 Brothers Big Tattoo or Vinum Cellars "Pets" Petite Sirah that turns over a portion of the proceeds from sales to charity, your E-mails and forum posts started coming in with nominations of more "good guys" who share their profits with worthy causes.

Let's devote today's edition to a "readers talk back" follow-up, giving due credit to a world of generous wine-related givers.

First, entirely by coincidence, just as I was mailing out Monday's edition I heard from an old online pal, the British wine writer Jancis Robinson, who goes out of her way every year at this time to boost the Geoffrey Roberts Award. This award is named in honor of the late importer who was instrumental in introducing New World wines to the UK during the 1980s. It provides a "travel bursary" worth up to £3,000 (nearly $6,000 at today's exchange rates) to individuals who propose winning plans to use the money for travel on a project that "improves the worlds of food and/or drink."

The award, Robinson said, "has been given every year since 1996 and has directly resulted in, for example, bringing farmers' markets to Australia, a brand new cheese, substantial research into eastern European grape varieties and exposing a leading young winemaker in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia to modern winemaking techniques at some of the finest properties in Bordeaux and Burgundy."

Interested? Anyone of any age from anywhere in the world may apply. All you need is a proposal that persuades the judges, an international panel that includes such luminaries as Robinson herself, wine writer Hugh Johnson, and wine makers Paul Draper of California's Ridge Vineyards and Anthony Barton of Chateau Leoville Barton. Closing date for applications is March 31, and the judging will take place in London in May. For more details and an application form, click to

And that's just the start. Here's a quick summary of other charitable donors and worthy causes that you can support by the simple expedient of buying and enjoying their wines.

Busty Blush Washington State's Claar Cellars, for example, donates all proceeds from its "Busty Blush" Sangiovese Rosé to The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The winery also holds a fund-raising "grape stomp" every October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month. "The label has special artwork created by Dixie Rogerson-Bill depicting three buxom women stomping grapes in a vat (sort of like the old I Love Lucy episode)," winery spokesman Mike Libbee said.

All 15 wineries in the Yakima Valley's Rattlesnake Hills donate a portion of their proceeds on Busty Blush weekend to the local fight against breast cancer, Libbee said: "Last year we donated over $5,000."

Dunham Cellars in Walla Walla, Wash., produces a special Shirley Mays Semillon - the only white wine they make - and donates a portion of the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in memory of winemaker Eric Dunham's grandmother, Shirley Mays, who died of breast cancer in the early 1980s, Libbee said, adding, "There are many more stories like these out there."

Indeed there are. Quickly told, with thanks to the many of you who reported these generous donors:

Schlink Haus German wines, with Wein-Bauer, its Chicago importer, has pledged at least $75,000 to the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization.

Ehlers Family Winery, in California's San Joaquin delta, shares some of its proceeds with the Heart Fund.

Woodhouse Family Cellars in Washington State donates proceeds from its Kennedy Shah label to women's and children's causes.

With the pledge "Changing the World ... One Sip at a Time!" Napa-based Humanitas Wines devotes a share of its profits to seeking solutions to three "primary issues" - hunger, affordable housing and illiteracy - through donations to the local chapters of America's Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity and Reading is Fundamental in the communities where the wine was sold. For more information see the winery Website,

Armida Winery, in Sonoma County, donates 10 percent of the proceeds of its Bordeaux-style blend, La Femme Mystique, to cancer-research programs at the University of California in San Francisco. Demonstrating the priniciple that no good deed goes unpunished, the winery was denied federal label approval for its 1998 bottling on the ground that its artful design showed a woman's naked breasts. (In similar fashion, Monday's Wine Advisor was bounced by at least a few incompetently configured "spam filters," apparently because it contained the word "b-r-e-a-s-t." What a world we live in.)

In a major charitable effort, California's Sutter Home Winery garnered not only money but publicity during the December 2004 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, with a promotion that encouraged all rodeo participants to wear pink shirts to promote breast cancer awareness. Every contestant who wore pink that night earned a $100 bonus and a matching $100 contribution to the Sutter Home for Hope, which benefits the City of Hope Breast Cancer Research Center in Southern California. Every round-winner who proved "tough enough to think pink" cashed a $1,000 check and sent a matching $1,000 contribution to the cause, all courtesy of Sutter Home.

Australia's Banrock Station focuses the environment through its Banrock Station Wetlands Conservation Program in partnership with The Conservation Fund. It provides grants of $1,000 to $5,000 to nonprofit groups in the United States that plan and implement local wetlands conservation and restoration projects.

Finally, reports my friend Peter May, who tracks this sort of thing as publisher of the intriguing Unusual Wine Labels site - - "There are several wines that donate part of their income to charity. Southern Right, in Walker Bay South Africa, gives to support the Southern Right whale which calve in the bay. Angoves Bear Crossing contribute to Australian Koala Foundation. Winds of Change contribute to disadvantaged in South Africa. Orang-Utang from France contributes to Rainforest Foundation. Then there are the wines produced by and for the benefit of vineyard workers in South Africa including FairView's Fairvalley and several others."

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this inspiring list. I'll keep nominations open and devote more space in future to a follow-up listing, so it you know of other wines that pay charitable benefits, please tell me about them. And of course, to ask a question or comment on today's topic (or any other wine-related subject), you'll find a round-table online discussion in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

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Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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