• Napa Valley winery owners Shari and Garen Staglin have helped raise a staggering amount—$95 million—for mental-health research. Since the Staglin Music Festival for Mental Health began in 1995, they’ve brought star acts like Pat Benatar, Gladys Knight, Brian Wilson and the Pointer Sisters to their Rutherford winery. But now the Staglins are a few of the stars featured in a mental health public service announcement created by actress Glenn Close and the Bring Change 2 Mind organization (BringChange2Mind.org) to combat the stigma that accompanies mental illness. The PSA, which features Glenn Close and her sister Jessie, was directed by Ron Howard who donated his time. Musician John Mayer donated his song “Say,” which serves as the campaign’s anthem. Filmed in New York’s Grand Central Station, the video opens with Shari Staglin and her son Brandon, who suffers from schizophrenia (Garen makes a cameo behind them). It features people wearing t-shirts declaring their illness or identifying themselves as supportive loved ones. The Staglins didn’t think twice about appearing in the video. “We’ve been very open about our family situation and Brandon’s been very courageous and open. Telling the real stories makes it much more effective," said Garen. Bring Change 2 Mind reports that one in six adults and almost one in 10 children suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, and the stigmas and misconceptions they face make their challenge even greater. Our hats off to the Staglins for being so tireless, generous and candid. Both the powerful public service announcement and a moving interview with Shari and Brandon can be viewed on the organization’s website.
• Twtr 2 hlp kdz lrn 2 rd? Social networking site Twitter, where users offer real-time updates of their daily activities, is joining with San Francisco-based custom winery Crushpad to bottle a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir called Fledgling. The new project will raise money to promote literacy in the third world. The project may seem counterintuitive, considering Twitterati often shorten their messages, usually at the expense of vowels, in order to keep each post under the maximum 140 characters allowable on the site. According to the wine project, every case sold will provide approximately 60 local-language children’s books and promote education in the world’s poorest regions. Fledgling will be hitting retail shelves in 2010 at $20 per bottle, and non-profit organization Room to Read will receive $5 from every bottle sold to establish libraries and local literacy programs from Nigeria to Nepal to give children access to books. "Once they learn to read, they can read to learn," said Room to Read founder John Wood, "and that will change their lives forever."
Jim Watkins (left) of WPIX and Chris Wragge of CBS News are all smiles at this year's Feast of Famous Faces.
• It was a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds as television stars and talented chefs came together to raise support for the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York at the 17th annual Feast of Famous Faces on Oct. 19. Unfiltered counted 27 chefs, 34 soap stars and 41 broadcasters at the Wine Spectator–sponsored event, a walk-around tasting, silent auction and live auction at Chelsea Piers. Newscasters including Chris Wragge (CBS News), Bill Ritter (ABC News), Jim Watkins (WPIX) and weatherman Mr. G (WPIX) jostled to sample innovative dishes from New York restaurants I Trulli, Becco, Butter and Buddakan, among others. "I am a huge red wine fan—Opus One and Coppola,” said Wragge. “I used to live in L.A. so I would go to Northern California a lot." The event was hosted by One Life to Live actors (and real-life couple) James and Kassie DePavia, whose son has been diagnosed with hearing loss, and it raised more than $400,000, according to Susan King, the director of special events for the Center for Hearing and Communication. Kassie told us she loved "Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio." We asked them when they enjoyed wine. “Anytime,” the two agreed. Unfiltered thinks One Life to Live just became our new favorite daytime soap.
• Imagine this, a scene taken straight from any television crime drama: an abandoned house, strong chemical odors wafting up from the basement windows, just as the neighbor had described when he called the police to ask them to investigate. Inside the basement, the fumes are stronger, more pungent, as you see a workbench full of vials, tubes, funnels, beakers and various jars and bottles, some capped with unidentifiable liquids, several of them broken. All signs point to an abandoned methamphetamine lab, and even after years of being left alone, those chemicals are still volatile, requiring authorities to take immediate action in securing the building’s perimeter. This is the scene the police department of North Cornwall Township, Pa., was faced with earlier this week. It turns out that despite what police were calling “items consistent with equipment used in the manufacture of methamphetamine,” the basement was merely the place where the former occupant, who died five years ago, was mixing up batches of his own homemade wine. Judging by the reported noxious aromas, Unfiltered isn’t expecting any tasting notes from Pennsylvania’s law enforcement officials.
• While not yet a serious threat, the spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzuki) was confirmed in various test samples of wine grapes in and around the Willamette Valley during this year’s harvest, and the news isn’t good for the vineyards. It has been reported that the fruit fly doesn’t just reside in the grapes, but has been found to lay eggs inside them, as it has done with cherries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches in Northern California and Oregon, in some cases decimating more than 80 percent of a given crop. Thirteen counties in all have reported the tiny fly in their wine grapes, and while there are no reports of any significant crop damage or drop in yields, everyone will be watching next year’s harvest for any signs of an increase in the fly’s activity among the vineyards. Until then, the Oregon Department of Agriculture will be continuing its studies to ascertain the degree of infestation, as well as finding a way to contain the pest before a population explosion, which is a very real threat given that the fly is capable of reproducing up to 13 times each season.