A Toast To Giving Back: Wine Companies That Donate to Charity
Few businesses are more supportive of noble causes than Sonoma and Napa wineries. Prized bottles and special wine tasting experiences are donated to auctions across the country each year, raising millions of dollars for charity. This has been the primary vehicle for philanthropy in the wine world for decades—donating bottles to events to raise money to support local community health, feed the hungry, enhance childhood education and youth programs, provide housing, protect the environment, rescue animals, and so much more. But there are a handful of wine companies that donate to charity continuously, giving a part of their daily wine sales to non-profits. Here’s a look at established winemakers in Napa and Sonoma operating with a social responsibility focus and the causes they support.
Wine Companies That Donate to Charity
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
In 2012, Jordan Winery’s owner created the John Jordan Foundation with the goal of fighting the negative effects of poverty and providing disadvantaged people tools needed to succeed educationally and professionally “from cradle to career.” Jordan funds the foundation’s programs by funneling about half of the Jordan Winery sales proceeds into the non-profit. The foundation has helped thousands of families through education, after-school enrichment and health programs, and has, to date, supported more than 220 organizations. The foundation has funded iPad and Chromebook education pilot programs, bringing technology to some of California’s poorest schools; a pediatric wing at Santa Rosa Health Centers; Accelerated English Language instruction programs; and numerous programs for abused and special-needs children. Its annual Teachers’ Wishes program supports classroom projects for teachers impacted by state and local budget cuts. Every holiday, Christmas at Jordan event ticket proceeds go to Toys for Tots donations. There’s a John Jordan Foundation section on the winery’s website and a few posts on their blog with charity spotlights, but they don’t make their social responsibility a central part of their marketing. “Giving back is just a part of who we are as a company,” John Jordan says. “As a successful business, we have a responsibility to play an active role in improving the lives of those in need.” Jordan wines can be found on restaurant wine lists and in wine shops across the country, as well as online at jordanwinery.com/shop. Tastings by appointment only.
Bob Cabral Wines
Bob Cabral, former winemaker at Williams-Selyem and current director of winemaking at Three Sticks Wines, created his own family brand in 2016. For it, Bob, his wife, Heather, and their daughter, Paige, contribute profits from sales of Bob Cabral Wines to their favorite causes, which include local schools, Healdsburg Future Farmers, 4-H, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, the ELF Foundation that’s helped build an edible garden at a grammar school in Petaluma, and donated $250,000 each to Sonoma Fire Relief and Napa Fire Relief. The Cabrals also distributed several thousand dollars in gift cards to fire evacuees at shelters. As he explained, “Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.’ We have chosen to build this new wine brand with the intention of using it to give—to give back to those who have changed our lives forever.” By appointment only.
Iron Horse Vineyards
Sparkling wine expert Joy Sterling is known for creating specialty bottles of bubbly for both customers and causes. Her limited-edition Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs supports the National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative with $4 per bottle being donated to establishing marine protected areas and supporting sustainable fishing practices around the globe. By appointment only.
This Santa Rosa winery, owned by Jean-Charles Boisset, produces a “Vinthropic” line of Sonoma County wines (a $20 Chardonnay and $25 Pinot Noir), with all net sales proceeds donated to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, Sonoma County’s largest hunger-relief organization. Vinthropic is part of the Fight Against Hunger campaign launched by parent company Boisset Family Estates in 2010; the goal is to contribute at least 60,000 meals each year through wine sales. Tasting room open daily.
“Buy a Bottle, Save a Bee.” That’s the motto of the sustainability team at Francis Ford Coppola Winery and Virginia Dare Winery, both in northern Sonoma County. Ten percent of the sales proceeds from the company’s Bee’s Box Wines (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) are donated to organizations whose missions are to promote bee pollinator health through conservation, education and research. Winery employees tend the hives, giving bees a safe environment in which to thrive and enhance the biodiversity of the vineyards. Tasting room open daily.
C. Mondavi & Family (Purple Heart Wines)
The late Peter Mondavi Sr., son of Cesare Mondavi, served in World War II. His family now honors the U.S. military by making the Purple Heart Wines red blend, from which sales proceeds benefit veterans and their families through the Purple Heart Foundation. Since its inception in 2016, the C. Mondavi program has donated $70,000 to the foundation. Purchase the wine at sister winery Charles Krug on Highway 29 in Napa Valley. Tasting room open daily.
This St. Helena winery is owned by a charitable trust, and all profits from the sales of its exceptional sauvignon blancs, merlots and cabernet sauvignons go to the trust. French businessman Jean Leducq and his wife, Sylviane, sold their companies in the 1990s and used the proceeds to create Fondation Leducq, which funds research on cardiovascular and neurovascular diseases. They purchased the vineyard and stone-barn winery founded in 1886 by Bernard Ehlers, and the 42-acres property is held by the Leducq Foundation. The grapes for the wines are grown organically, and the olive trees produce a peppery oil that can be purchased at the winery. By appointment only.
Jack and Jamie Davies, who purchased and restored the historic Jacob Schram winery south of Calistoga, were leaders in the effort to create the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, beginning in the in the late 1960s. Jack was chairman of the citizen committee supporting the Ag Preserve, established to protect the valley’s agricultural land. To honor his legacy, the Davies family established the Jack L. Davies Fund to underwrite research and education on agricultural conservation; sales of the Schramsberg Querencia Brut Rosé ($55) benefit this fund. Querencia is Spanish for “the deep and abiding affection one has for the place one calls home.”
Waugh Family Wines
In 2018, Napa Valley vintners Ryan and Crystal Waugh created Relief Wines, a 501(c) 3 non-profit that will give 100 percent of its wine sales proceeds to causes important to the Waugh family. The 2017 Firestorm North Coast Chardonnay ($20) and 2017 Firestorm Rosé ($20) are available for purchase online and at Vino Volo outlets at West Coast airports. All Firestorm profits go to Habitat for Humanity Sonoma County, to support rebuilding efforts in the fire-ravaged region.
Trinchero Family Estates
This St. Helena-based company, which many wine drinkers know for its Sutter Home White Zinfandels of the 1980s, is so much more than that today, yet still widely appreciated for its fundraising efforts to fight breast cancer. In 2001, Vera Trinchero Torres was diagnosed with breast cancer, and ever since, the company has marketed wines whose sales support breast cancer research, treatment and education programs. Sutter Home for Hope was one of the first breast cancer awareness programs in the wine industry. Trinchero has since founded the One Bottle, One Tree program, planting a tree for every bottle of Trinity Oaks wine sold—more than 13 million trees to date.
There are many other wineries that host charity events and organize fundraisers, such as Staglin Family Vineyard, Honig Vineyard and Winery, Flanagan Wines and Kendall-Jackson—to name a few. There are also several wine brands that were created specifically for social responsibility marketing, which you can find online, from Distant Cellars (firefighter cause) to ONEHope and this list of charity wines. There are also websites like Benefit Wines and Charity Wines that help sell wines to consumers with proceeds benefiting charity.