During the holiday season, some of us eat and drink a bit more than usual. At our place, holiday cheer is spread, in part, with full glasses of wine. We also tend to give wine as gifts to our vino-loving friends and colleagues. However, holiday imbibing and gifting can be self-indulgent. So, why not give—and pour—wines that give back? Many wineries earmark a portion of their sales proceeds to worthy charities, from those working with military veterans to animal rescue organizations. There are far too many to list here, but these are a few of my favorite wineries that also give back to their communities.
Sonoma's Rodney Strong Vineyards has made significant donations through the years to the United Way and to food banks throughout the county. Proprietor Tom Klein and the Rodney Strong team also support CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees), which provides support to children and families of restaurant employees who are afflicted by life-altering circumstances. Their lush Chalk Hill Chardonnay ($18.95), made in consultation with renowned winemaker David Ramey, would make an excellent addition to any holiday table.
Another good value chardonnay for the yule tide season or anytime is Chateau La Paws ($10.99). La Paws is a spinoff of Rosenblum Cellars, created by the "King of Zin," Kent Rosenblum. The winemaker is also a veterinarian and Chateau La Paws supports no-kill animal rescue organizations such as Long Island, N.Y.'s North Shore Animal League—which, incidentally, is where I adopted my cat, Rufus.
Murphy-Goode "Homefront" Red ($12) is a big syrah and merlot blend that was created to benefit Operation Homefront: 50 cents from each bottle sold goes to provide assistance to families of military service members and wounded vets. Also benefiting the unmet needs of military men, women and families is Purple Heart Wines, which last year assisted more than 19,000 veterans with programs to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, offer educational scholarships, provide service dogs and more via the winery's Purple Heart Foundation.
Bruce R. Cohn is the Doobie Brothers' longtime manager and founder of B.R. Cohn Winery. Not surprisingly, live music is a weekly event at the Sonoma winery, and every year Cohn hosts a charity weekend featuring a celebrity golf tournament, auction and concert with performers like Willie Nelson, Little Feat and Dave Mason. The bulk of the money raised goes to local Sonoma charities, but also to causes such as Hurricane Katrina Relief and the National Veterans Foundation. B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($24.99) is a rich, complex cabernet that would make a lovely holiday gift for your favorite wine lover.
Another music industry phenom, Dave Matthews, created Dreaming Tree Wines with winemaker Sean McKenzie. The wines are produced sustainably and, to date, the pair have donated $500,000 to environmental organizations such as The Wilderness Society and Living Lands & Waters. Dreaming Tree Crush ($15.99) is an appealing red blend with soft tannins that pairs well with barbecue and bahn mi.
Located in the heart of Napa Valley, OneHope Winery is committed to making the world a better place. The results from nonprofit organizations they've impacted include over 1 million meals provided, 52,621 trees planted, 2,792 clinical breast cancer trials funded, 13,605 animals adopted, 927 veterans aided and much, much more. For more information, visit OneHopeWine.com.
And, for those lucky enough to live in states that allow retail wine shipments, BenefitWines.com is "America's Charity Wine Shop," with more than 500 charity partners to choose from and causes ranging from pet-related and wildlife organizations to health-based, community, veterans and religious charities.
Now, let's raise a glass to giving!