Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Wine News You Can Use - Support for Japan from US Wineries

I still manage to keep up with the developing crisis in Japan, and I'm sure many wonder how we can contribute to support relief efforts.  After all, what is important now is to help the thousands of civilians without homes and food.  

What's sad about this article is the refusal of support from the Idaho wineries based on the fact that they produce alcohol.  I guess I can understand this from the side of the Red Cross to avoid corrupt business donating to a relief foundation, but I know plenty of wineries that constantly contribute to relief efforts based on bottle per bottle sales: humane societies, oceanic reservation, etc.  It's one way, as a winemaker, that you can give back somewhere and support local, national, and global communities based on given your success.

Original article found at Wines and Vines website.  It is pasted here for your convenience. 

Regardless, the article is here for you to decide how you feel about it.  Enjoy!  Happy weekend!


Wineries Raise Money for Japan

But Red Cross in Idaho turns down help from local wineries

by Jane Firstenfeld

Red Cross Japan Idaho California wine

Boise, Idaho—When seven Idaho wineries planned a benefit for Japanese earthquake/tsunami relief, they decided to donate a portion of tasting room sales to the American Red Cross. Last week, the Idaho Wine Commission issued a news release to let the public know that weekend purchases from 800-caseBitner VineyardsCold Springs Winery (4,000 cases), retailer Coyotes Fine Wines, Davis Creek Cellars (500 cases), Fujishin Family Cellars (500 cases),Indian Creek (Stowe) Winery (4,900-cases) and Snyder Winery (2,500 cases) would result in contributions to Red Cross relief.

On Monday, though, Moya Shatz, the commission’s executive director, emailed contacts: “On Friday a press release was sent out prematurely stating that Idaho wineries would be donating a portion of their proceeds to the Red Cross in an effort to support Japan. Per the Red Cross’s rules and regulations, they must take extra care when associating themselves with alcohol and firearms. Therefore, wineries will not be able to donate to the Red Cross as businesses.”

Meanwhile, vintners in California were planning—and announcing—similar benefit efforts. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, epicenter of the disastrous October 1989 Loma Prieta quake, wineries pledged to donate tasting fees last weekend, including those from Bonny Doon (20,000 cases), Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard (4,000 cases), Silver Mountain Vineyard (4,000 cases),Sones Cellars (2,000 case), Storrs Cellars (12,000 cases), retail center Old Sash Mill and Vine Hill Winery (2,000 cases). Wines & Vines learned of this effort from Cindy Molchany, Boutique Wines Management Co., and asked her if the Red Cross had put up any resistance.

Red Cross in California accepts
Not at all, she responded. “I wonder if it is a chapter-specific policy. I received an email over the weekend from the marketing director of the Santa Cruz (Red Cross) chapter, and she seemed elated over the efforts here, and she wanted to see how we could work together to promote it further. If it turns out to actually be the policy of the Red Cross, I’ll be shocked. Follow that same thought process, and no school should ever solicit donations from wineries for their fundraisers.”

Napa Valley Vintners maintains a similarly warm working relationship with the Napa County Red Cross. The two organizations are among others in the community that are staging an event this coming Sunday afternoon, March 27, at the Napa Valley Opera House to benefit Iwanuma, Napa’s sister city in Japan, which was severely damaged in the earthquake.

“Our involvement was to reach out to our 400 members last week for tools to help with relief, by donating financially to the Red Cross, or donating wine for auction or pouring at the event,” NVV’s Rex Stults told Wines & Vines. The mid-afternoon event will include a reception, wine, food, a silent auction and performances in the main theater. Both auction proceeds and ticket sales ($35 general, $75 preferred) will support the cause. For details, visit

Frank Lucier, executive director of the Red Cross Napa County chapter, works closely with the wine industry on relief efforts, including events to benefit Haitian earthquake recovery last year. “The wineries are our biggest supporters,” he said. “The only restriction on fundraising I know of is gambling, but we can do auctions. The wineries are doing a great job raising money for Japan, where they really need our support.”

An unfortunate misunderstanding?
Lucier explained that the American Red Cross is organized in 10 regional divisions and put Wines & Vines in touch with Pat Hofmaster, vice president of the West Division, based in Sacramento. When told of the Idaho misfire, Hofmaster expressed consternation. “That is very unfortunate,” she said. “We have a close relationship with the wineries here in California. We appreciate and love that support from wineries. I would certainly not turn away that support: Win eries are such a part of our culture and economy.”

She explained that Idaho is not part of her territory, but said she had contacted her counterpart in the Northwest to try and clarify the situation there. “We need to use good judgment in any partnership,” she conceded. The Red Cross, she said, wants to do “anything we can to work together to enhance our support of the people we serve.”

According to Schatz at the Idaho Wine Commission, Christopher Davis at the Boise, Idaho, Red Cross had nixed the local plan. Davis explained: "I'm just following what I'm advised  to do. We are absolutely excited, and embrace the wine industry in showing their support. I'm told we are researching what we can do with them, but we are hesitant to do a per-bottle-sold thing."

He acknowledged, "The big thing, I think, is that as an emerging area, so we are treading carefully."  

According to Abi Weaver, senior communications officer at the American Red Cross, International Services, in Washington, D.C., “This particular offer was not shared with our national headquarters staff.

“It is true that we do not create partnerships in which a percentage of purchase may motivate consumers to purchase alcohol. However, the America Red Cross would accept a philanthropic contribution, help the company drive public donations from their website with an American Red Cross web banner, or even set up a special fundraising micro-site for the organization,” she concluded.

While Schatz did not have any figures for earnings in the Idaho tasting rooms last weekend, she has advised her members just to write personal checks to the Red Cross for the appropriate amounts. 

Meanwhile, million-case producer J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, San Jose, Calif., is avoiding any conflicts while making it easy for its customers to donate. A message atop the blog page on its website reads: “Our Thoughts are with Japan.

“Today at J. Lohr, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the devastation following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As we sit and watch this unfold, we remember how fortunate we’ve been, but at the same time, we are humbled by the reminder of how fragile and volatile the earth can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and to the rescuers who are risking their lives to assist these victims. From all of us at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines—our thoughts are with you.” The entry concludes with an invitation to phone or text 1-800-RED-CROSS to make a $10 donation.

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