Holiday Season Brings Much-Needed Charity from Wine and Spirits Industry

Across North America, international drinks giants and small family wineries are making a difference

Holiday Season Brings Much-Needed Charity from Wine and Spirits Industry
A Toast from Coast to Coast features 100 cocktail recipes; 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the Bartenders Benevolent Fund.
Dec 10, 2020

Updated Dec. 12

From the COVID-19 pandemic to the wildfires that scorched the West Coast, 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for many. When restaurants and bars across the globe closed this spring, many hospitality workers found themselves without jobs. As many countries revisit stay-at-home orders during what would normally be the busiest time of year, these workers are once again facing financial insecurity. In light of the myriad issues faced by those the world over, many in the wine and spirits industry have stepped up to offer relief.

Pernod Ricard Brand and Partner Donations to Pandemic Relief Surpass $1.3 Million

Earlier this year, French beverage giant Pernod Ricard, the company behind brands like Perrier-Jouët and Mumm Champagnes and Jameson and The Glenlivet whiskies, directed many of its distilleries around the world to join the effort to meet the world’s need for hand sanitizer.

In March, Jameson pledged $500,000 to the U.S. Bartenders' Guild's Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, and then matched an additional $100,000 donated by consumers. Following Pernod Ricard’s lead, its distribution partner Republic National Distributing Co. donated another $500,000.

In early December, Pernod Ricard North America announced another $300,000 donation, a partnership between Pernod Ricard USA and Canadian affiliate Corby Spirit and Wine with the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation and the Bartenders Benevolent Fund. Corby has also created a coffee table book of cocktail recipes, A Toast from Coast to Coast ($40), proceeds of which will benefit the Bartenders Benevolent Fund. "Our industry is only as resilient as our bartenders, so many of whom have lost their livelihoods to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Pernod Ricard North America CCO John Barrett in a statement. "While we prioritize responsible drinking for the holiday season, this year we are expanding our definition of 'responsibility' to include our commitment to support the professionals who need it most."

Gott for Good Donates 1.5 Million Meals to 200 Food Banks

Joel Gott Wines will help provide millions of meals to food banks nationwide through the Gott for Good initiative. The initiative was introduced by winemaker Joel Gott in 2019 as a way to help families in need. In its first year, Gott for Good supplied meals to 26 food banks across the country. This year, the program will provide 1.5 million meals to 200 food banks through the end of 2020. “This year is nothing as anyone expected and so many people across the world have been faced with so many unforeseen challenges, which makes our mission through Gott for Good that much more significant," said Gott in a statement.

Justin Wine and Landmark Vineyards Owners Spread $500,000 Across California Wine Country Organizations

The Wonderful Company, the global brand behind Justin Wines and Landmark Vineyards, has donated more than $500,000 to 19 non-profit organizations and schools in California wine country. Through a variety of efforts, The Wonderful Company co-owners Lynda and Stewart Resnick have donated millions of dollars to a variety of organizations. This summer, the Resnicks created a $1 million COVID-19 relief fund. After fires devastated the West Coast, they provided an additional $500,000 in grants that have since been donated to organizations across Sonoma and San Luis Obispo counties. Among the recipients are Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation and Santa Rosa City Schools.

“On behalf of The Wonderful Company and Lynda and Stewart Resnick, we are grateful to organizations who have been working tirelessly to assist their communities and frontline workers,” said Wonderful Company COO of philanthropy Andy Anzaldo in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic, followed by the devastating California wildfires, has put a tremendous amount of stress on these communities, and we are honored to help these organizations so they can continue their efforts we desperately need during this time.” Launched in 2013 and 2014, respectively, the Justin and Landmark Community Grants have supported local organizations focused on health, education and community development.

Quilceda Creek Donates $365,000 to Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

Earlier this year, Washington’s Quilceda Creek made some of its mailing-list only Cabernets available to the public through the #QuilcedaCares campaign, reserving 50 percent of the proceeds for charity. The offerings quickly sold out and, with additional donations, the winery contributed a total $365,000 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which awards grants to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through Quilceda Creek’s donation, more than 700 displaced restaurant workers received $500 checks.

“It was very humbling to witness the outpouring of support, and a true honor to read the messages of personal connections to the restaurant industry we received from our customers,” said Quilceda Creek president and director of winemaking Paul Golitzin in a statement. “Because of them, we were able to make a huge difference and a direct impact on the lives of restaurant workers across the country. I give our heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated.” Quilceda Creek has also donated large-format bottles to the United Sommeliers Foundation Wine Auction benefiting sommeliers impacted by the pandemic.

Sarah Jessica Parker’s Invivo X, SJP Pledges 330,000 School Meals Through FEED Foundation

The Sarah Jessica Parker–branded imprint of New Zealand’s Invivo winery will be sporting a new fashion accessory when the 2020 vintages of Sauvignon Blanc and rosé hit shelves: a FEED necktag celebrating the winery’s commitment to provide 330,000 meals for schoolchildren through Lauren Bush Lauren’s FEED Foundation, a lifestyle brand that has supplied more than 110 million meals to date via the United Nations World Food Programme, Feeding America and No Kid Hungry. "Hunger is not defined by gender, race or education,” Parker said in a statement, “and has soared across the globe exponentially in the wake of the COVID pandemic. It is especially heartbreaking so many children are affected."

Alma Rosa Winery Raises More than $140,000 in Support of Mental Wellness

In California’s Santa Barbara County, Alma Rosa Winery has been raising funds to support mental health initiatives. Their inaugural Peace of Mind: 10,000 Steps in the Right Direction event raised $144,225. The inaugural virtual initiative, which is expected to become an annual event at the winery, encouraged participants to walk 10,000 steps.

“We are overwhelmed by the community’s support for our first annual fundraiser,” said Alma Rosa owner Bob Zorich in a statement. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires on the West Coast and other forces that have taken a toll on the mental health of our communities, the donors’ support will have a very meaningful impact.” Zorich purchased the winery in 2014 with his wife, Barb. Their month-long charity drive benefited two foundations, One Mind and Mental Wellness Center. Working nationally, One Mind works to facilitate scientific research on brain health, while Mental Wellness Center provides mental health services to the Santa Barbara community.

10th Annual Walla Walla Valley Barrel Full of Money Campaign Raises Money for Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank

For the 10th year in a row, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is partnering with other local businesses and organizations for the benefit of Blue Mountain Action Council. Since 2011, the Barrel Full of Money campaign has tackled food insecurity through the Columbia County region through a string of fundraising events, raising more than $220,000 to date. This year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have shifted efforts to include the sale of raffle tickets, remote fundraising efforts from brands like Woodward Canyon, Amavi Cellars, Gifford Hirlinger and Rôtie Cellars, and a culminating online silent auction.

“While it may look very different from years past, there are still many ways to support the Barrel Full of Money fundraiser this year,” said Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance executive director Robert Hansen in a statement. “There is a way to give for everyone. We look forward to coming together as a community to support our neighbors in need.” The campaign, which began in November, ends Dec. 10 with a wine auction.

Sonoma-Cutrer and Woodford Reserve Give Another $50,000 to No Kid Hungry

Russian River Valley’s Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards has joined forces with Bourbon distiller Woodford Reserve to donate $50,000 to No Kid Hungry. Since 2018, the two Brown-Forman stablemates have given a combined $150,000 to the organization.

“We are proud and humbled to support No Kid Hungry’s ongoing efforts to feed kids without access to the meals they need,” said Sonoma-Cutrer winemaker Zidanelia Arcidiacono in a statement. “Today, in light of this year’s unprecedented times, it is an even greater privilege to stand up for these children and their families.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic strained access to food, No Kid Hungry created the Free Meal Finder map and launched a $34.5 million emergency relief fund. Sonoma-Cutrer and Woodford Reserve are also encouraging their customers to donate to the campaign through the holiday season.

Frank Family Vineyards Donates $25,000 to James Beard Foundation’s Open for Good

Rich and Leslie Frank, the owners of Napa’s Frank Family Vineyards, committed 15 percent of all direct sales of their Napa Cabernet in November to the James Beard Foundation’s Open for Good fund. Through the #FrankForACause campaign, Frank Family collected $25,000 to Open for Good, which the James Beard Foundation created earlier this year to provide support and resources to independent restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic; since April, Open for Good has distributed more than $4.7 million, and is now directing funds to JBF’s Food & Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans. “It is the holiday season, so while we know so many of our customers would be ordering Cabernet Sauvignon, we also know that so many restaurants are struggling to stay open,” said Leslie Frank in a statement. “Donating to this cause seems like a win-win for everyone.”

Frank Family’s Frank for a Cause campaigns debuted in 2018, and have since provided nearly $100,000 in donations to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Feeding America, Autism Speaks and more.

JaM Cellars Commits $25,000 to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund

JaM Cellars, the brand of easy-drinking, playfully branded California wines founded by Napa winemakers John and Michele Truchard, has announced a new partnership with Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to musicians and music industry workers in need. In addition to committing at least $25,000 to the fund, JaM Cellars is encouraging wine lovers to join in and support the cause through virtual JaMHappyHour wine and music parties on Facebook Live featuring acclaimed performers, the first of which will be singer-songwriter Mondo Cozmo at 4 p.m. PT on Dec. 10. JaM Cellars and Sweet Relief also developed co-branded merchandise available for purchase at JaM’s website, with 100 percent of proceeds going to Sweet Relief.

Rodney Strong Vineyards Donates $20,000 to World Central Kitchen

During the month of November, Rodney Strong Vineyards donated 10 percent of all order values to World Central Kitchen’s Restaurants for the People program, totaling about $20,000. The program supports restaurants and relieves food insecurity by paying local restaurants to cook fresh meals for community members in need. Rodney Strong joins the ranks of Jon Bon Jovi, Wine Spectator and many more supporting the non-profit organization founded by chef José Andrés.

Spoto Family Cabernet to Benefit Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund

Spoto Family Wines, a small, family-owned winery in Sacramento, focuses on Bordeaux-style wines from grapes sourced from Napa Valley vineyards. For years, the Spoto family, led by owner and winemaker Stuart Spoto with his wife, Christy, and their daughters Ari and Alexi, have raised service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that places service dogs with those in need, free of charge. They’ve also raised more than $30,000 for the organization through various charity fundraisers. But this fall they’ve turned their charitable efforts toward the fire-ravaged Napa community.

"It’s been an extraordinarily tough year for the industry, and we are dedicated to supporting our fellow Napa community as much as we can,” said Stuart in a statement announcing that proceeds from his 2017 Private Reserve Cabernet ($150, 100 cases made) will be donated to Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, an organization that continues to raise funds for families affected by the wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. “The release of this wine represents the strength and resilience of the wine industry.”

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