“Fans of our wine buy and drink our wine because they love it. The philanthropic component is a bonus to them.”
-Kat McDonald, Art+Farm Wine, Napa, CA
In recent years, winery philanthropy has increased by making donations to designated charities through their sale of wine. Interesting concept. In most cases, a certain percentage of each bottle sold goes to a charity like in the case of ONEHOPE Winery (http://www.onehopewine.com), a wine made in partnership with Winemaker Rob Mondavi Jr. in Napa Valley, who gives 50% of profits from each bottle sold. Their mission is two-fold: to create high-quality wines that will raise awareness and give back to noteworthy causes year around. In 5 years, they have donated over $750,000. ONEHOPE pairs their wines - not with food – but with specific causes. Their California Sparkling Wine will help stop childhood hunger; Sauvignon Blanc: Environment, Gold Medal Long Beach Grand Cru
Chardonnay: Breast Cancer, Gold medal OC Wine Competition
Cabernet: Autism, Gold medal OC Wine Competition
Merlot: AIDS, Gold Medal Long Beach Grand Cru
Zinfandel: Our Troops, Silver Medal National Tasters Guild.
Napa-based and environmentally conscious, Art + Farm (http://www.artfarmwine.com), maker of famed the Girls in the Vineyard wine, allows the customer to designate the charity with their purchase of wine. Since 2008, they have made over $100,000 in donations to over 110 of charities all over the US with an average donation of $2 on an $18 bottle of wine. They opted to let the wine consumer choose the charity because Kat McDonald, owner and winemaker, felt there are “so many good causes doing amazing things. We have our favorites: our children’s schools, educational foundations-but it seemed presumptuous for us to choose. It means a lot of work on our part. We write tons of checks! But it gives us a thrill each time.” They also learn about new charities that they have gone on to support in other ways through donating wine and volunteering their time.
Kat explains that making philanthropy a key part of their business plan was easy: “From case one we had a philanthropic component. As a business and a family we are part of a bigger community and with that comes an obligation to that community. It was also a natural outgrowth of who we are as people and business owners. Our winery partnership started with a conversation about making wine as a fundraiser for our children’s school. We wanted a philanthropic component that was sustainable and could make a difference.”
High school sweethearts, Kerith and Brian, fell in love with Napa (apparently in the town’s Mental Institution park) and started Bruliam Winery (www. bruliamwines.com) as a fun project with 25 cases of wine… that has quickly grown into something much more serious with 400 cases of wine this year. Even more impressive, is that they have a mandate to donate 100% of their profits to charity. Yep, 100%!!
“We don’t aim to make money with Bruliam Wines,
we try to break even on our direct operating costs
(buying fruit, barrels, custom crush fees, etc.)
and then give the rest away.”
Due to their previous professional success, Kerith and Brian pay for much of the expenses out of pocket and Kerith does not draw a salary. “It’s all a labor of love so we’re happy to do the work for the rewards we’ve already been given and the non-economic rewards that come to us from this endeavor (lasting friendships, professional and personal growth, and the opportunity to raise our kids with an appreciation for hard work and giving back).”
Bruliam asks their supporters to decide where the money goes (usually in tranches of $250-$1000). To date, they’ve donated to about 40 different charities http://www.bruliamwines.com/bruliam-beneficiaries/ recommended by our supporters for a total of approximately $20,000. The generosity doesn’t stop there. Brian reports “in the years where we didn’t have any profits, we dipped into our marketing budget and spent that on charitable donations instead.” Yep, generous!
They see their philanthropy “as a way to explore a shared passion, to teach our kids about philanthropy and following your dreams, and to give back to our communities.”
In the case of Kalyra Winery (www.kalyrawines.com), they dedicated their aptly named NV SCHOOL HOUSE RED to exclusively to benefit their children’s school, Ballard School.
“Kalyra has always tried to be tied into the community in different ways.
Most of the philanthropic choices stem from things that are near and dear to our hearts (cycling, children’s education, etc.). Making a special wine for a fundraising cause is a natural fit for a winery.”
There are a number of “winemaker” families in the Santa Ynez area who have kids at Ballard School. Kathy Brown, owner of Kalyra with her husband Mike, said: “We were just sitting around brainstorming and my husband Mike just threw out the idea of asking all the ‘wine’ families if they would be willing to donate a bit of bulk wine to make a wine to benefit the school.” Not surprisingly, the winemakers all agreed to chip in with Mike doing the legwork of blending, bottling and labeling the wine. Since the release of this vintage, they have raised $6,000 for the School.
Their next project? Arts Outreach, a non-profit in the Santa Ynez Valley that brings art to the schools and elderly. Arts Outreach holds an annual fundraiser called Real Men Cook and Kalyra will be selling the “Arts Outreach Red” at that event as well as at the tasting room. Five other wineries have donated bulk wine to make the blend and we are doing the blending and bottling. As funding has been cut and/or eliminated in the public schools we feel a huge obligation to help organizations that are trying to bring these important parts of education to our children. Kathy and Mike have a vested interest: “We want our kids to have art in school – so we feel very strongly about helping in any way we can.”