This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Nov. 2, 2007 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20071102.php.
It's November, and despite the contrary evidence of a summer that won't go away, Thanksgiving in the U.S. and the holiday season around the wrold are drawing near. It's traditionally a time for home and family and, perhaps, taking a moment to do a little something for those less fortunate.
Here and there around the world of wine, a handful of producers make it easy for you to enjoy your wine and make a small charitable contribution at the same time.
MBAs and cynics call this kind of thing "social marketing," suggesting that its practitioners "do good in order to do well," as the saying goes: Tapping into public charitable consciousness by pledging to make a small donation to a worthy cause, companies stand to increase their own sales and profits.
Is anything wrong with this? As long as the promises are kept and the pledges fulfilled, the practice strikes me as a stereotypical "win-win" concept. I don't think a charitable add-on would prompt me to buy a wine that wouldn't appeal to me anyway. But if all other things are equal, knowing that a few cents went to a worthy cause would probably encourage me to pick the charitable bottle over an otherwise similar competitor.
Social marketing hasn't come heavily to the world of wine, but I've reported on specific charitable arrangements from time to time. Today's featured wine, for example, a simple but enjoyable New Zealand Pinot Noir, a product of the St. Helena winery in Canterbury that bears the "Flying Kiwi" label, pledges to donate 1 percent of all its sales to support the Kiwi Breeding and Recovery Programme of the New Zealand Conservation Trust, which cares for and manages threatened native bird species including New Zealand's symbol, the flightless kiwi.
Here are a few other wineries that promise financial support, based on wine sales, to charitable and service organizations:
Big Tattoo Wines, a California winery, dedicates 50 cents for every bottle sold to a variety of breast cancer research and support programs. Winery officials say they've raised more than $1 million for since the project began in 2002.
Cleavage Creek, of Napa, promises 10 percent of its gross sales to breast-cancer research, a program mounted by winery owner Budge Brown in memory of his wife of 48 years. The wine labels feature photos of breast-cancer survivors and are priced in the $18 - $50 range.
Five Rivers Winery also raises money for breast cancer research. Its "Save A Local Goddess" program donates $1 for every bottle sold during October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The winery, which had raised more than $130,000 before this year's campaign, is expanding the program with year-round efforts to draw attention to the issue.
San Patrignano, a fine Italian winery in Emilia-Romagna, is actually owned and operated by an up-by-your-bootstraps "community of service" that helps young people from around the world overcome drug addiction and turn their lives around through hard work and training under experts in more than 50 crafts and professions, including wine making. Its wines are distributed in the U.S. by Palm Bay Imports of Boca Raton, Fla.
Vinum Cellars, in California's Lodi region, labels its "Pets" Petite Sirah in memory of grower Ken Wilson's dog Tanker, and has donated more than $25,000 from sales of this wine to local animal shelters, the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and also to breast-cancer charities.
Enjoy your wine, give a little help. Makes sense to me! I'd like to know what you think. Do you approve of winery social marketing in general? Would you like to talk about a good wine that supports a worthy cause? Please let the wine-loving community know by posting a response to this topic, which I've posted in our WineLovers Discussion Group at this link:
WHILE WE'RE BEING CHARITABLE:
Kiva.org lets you connect with - and loan money to - unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can sponsor an entrepreneur, helping a specific working-poor person make strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive Email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As the loan is repaid, you get your money back. No wine, but a great concept.
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Flying Kiwi 2006 South Island Pinot Noir ($14.99)
Clear ruby, not overly dark. Decent cool-climate Pinot scents, red cherries and a lightly herbaceous "tomato skin" quality over just a whiff of brown spice. Fresh, crisp and tart, soft cherry fruit and zippy acidity. Smooth, rational 13% alcohol, no hint of tannic astringency, clean and food-friendly; a decent New World Pinot. U.S. importer: Miller Squared Inc., Highland Park, Ill. (Nov. 1, 2007)
FOOD MATCH: Versatile with a range of fare from red meat to salmon to mushrooms and cheeses. It was an excellent match with a dinner salad made with a low-acid olive-oil-and-lime-juice dressing and topped with strips of pan-seared, grass-fed steak with a teriyaki-style shot of soy sauce.
VALUE: More than fairly priced in the middle teens in this Pinot-crazy era.
WHEN TO DRINK: The sturdy Stelvin-style metal screwcap will hold it well on the wine rack, but I don't see it improving dramatically with cellar time. Drink up over the next couple of years.
Here's a fact sheet on the winery and some of its wines (although not the Flying Kiwi) on the New Zealand wine information Website TizWine:
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