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harvey steiman at large

Good Wine Doing Good

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Jul 10, 2009 2:18pm ET

Sparky and Sarah Marquis, known for their big, bold and friendly wines (Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz made the Wine Spectator Top Ten in both of the past two years), have come up with a unique way to make a difference in the world. Last year they set aside 1,000 cases of Mollydooker Two Left Feet South Australia 2007, their Shiraz-Cabernet-Merlot blend, to sell as a fundraiser for an Australian non-profit organization, Transform Cambodia, which provides food and schooling for children living in poverty in that Southeast Asian country.

The wine is called Sip It Forward, the name that won a contest among Mollydooker’s mailing list and email customers, most of whom are in the US. There’s a heart-wrenching video on the Mollydooker web site, which follows Sarah as she visits the people being helped by this project. The sight of children scavenging the dump for food, and then the contrast with them proudly wearing their school clothing and backpacks with the help of this project, is truly moving.

The web site also offers the wine to order for $300 a case (the same $25 a bottle it sold for as Two Left Feet). Proceeds will fund Mollydooker House, the new block of buildings with shelter, schoolrooms and the central office. There are photos at www.transformcambodiablog.com.

“The response has been overwhelming to us,” Sparky wrote in an email. “Just in the last 21 1/2 hours we have sold $16,200 of Sip It Forward that will go toward the project.”

The wine is very good. I rated it 88 points and described it thus: “Crisp in texture and a bit tannic, with ripe black fruits and smoky oak making for an intense combination of flavors, finishing rich and slightly herbal.” What a way to drink well and do good at the same time.

Jason Gullion
July 10, 2009 4:54pm ET
Hi Harvey, Thanks for the great story. I love Mollydooker, and now I have another good reason to purchase their wines. These days, it's also really nice when I feel my wine-buying dollars are getting more mileage--either one way or another. I'd love to know about other wineries that are doing good philanthropic work--other than the big prestige auctions (not to take anything away from those). I know Napa's Ehlers Estate donates all of their earnings to cardiovascular research--which is great--and they make excellent wines. Do you know of any other stories in this vein?
David Tietz
Columbus, OH —  July 12, 2009 10:01pm ET
What a coincidence that as I'm reading this I'm drinking the 2006 2 Brothers Big Tattoo Red Colchagua Valley Cabernet/Shiraz- from the back label "For every bottle sold, the brothers donated 50 cents to Capital Hospice and other breast cancer related charities in the name of [their mother, who died of breast cancer] ... Since the project's inception, Big Tattoo Wines has raised over $1 million in donation funds."Hopefully this is a trend that will grow and continue!
Kathleen Bershad
New York, NY —  July 13, 2009 3:51pm ET
Great minds! I recently did an interview with Sparky and included information about Sip It Forward as well. Jason's right that it's nice to support wines that support good causes. Staglin Family Vineyards also does lots of fundraising for mental health charities. BTW, here's a link to my story for anyone who's interested: http://www.finewineconcierge.com/newsletter.html

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