For many people, giving back to the community is easy; you write a check and you’re done. For winemakers, it’s a little different. Being the darlings of a media-driven industry, winemakers are constantly sought out to provide wine donations for charities great and small. Many of them partner with Direct Relief International (DRI) and are creating a unique experience.
Founded in 1948, DRI provides medical supplies and medicines to nearly 24 million people in 56 countries, including the U.S. This year, Forbes magazine once again listed DRI as one of the top nonprofits in the nation. Located in Santa Barbara, DRI has a global reach while maintaining its philanthropic roots of services and strong financial accountability. While it’s true that the tri-counties has one of the highest number of nonprofits per capita in the country, it’s also true that constantly raising money is never an easy task. DRI decided a few years ago to forgo the glitzy, once-a-year fundraising gala and, “try something different,” according to Lori Willis, Director of Major Gifts. It was decided to spread several events over several months, making it easier on the planning staff and allowing more people to attend. Winemaker dinners were suggested and Vintners for Humanity was born, becoming an unqualified success.
This year, the annual winemaker dinners stretch from August 2006 to May 2007 and feature the wines of Hitching Post, Beckmen, Dierberg, Alma Rosa and others. Additionally, the dinners are held in a variety of venues, including the Four Seasons Biltmore, Mattei’s Tavern and private homes. One of the benefits of the dinners is that those attending may purchase additional wines at a wholesale discount. And that’s great news to folks like me who are constantly stocking up the cellar.
This year marks the first time Tantara Winery has become involved. Tantara, know for their exceptional pinot noirs is routinely asked to donate wines. “We get hit up all the time,” said Jeff Fink, co-owner and winemaker who, along with his partner Bill Cates, runs Tantara Winery. “You want to take care of those you can,” Jeff added, but sometimes the sheer number of requests can be overwhelming. One of the decisive factors is knowing the legitimacy of the organization. “Basically, hearing DRI was legit, and that the money got where it needed to go, gave us the incentive to partner with them,” Fink said.
Plus, there’s the added bonus of exposure to new wine drinkers.
If you’ve never tried any of Tantara’s pinot noirs, which sell for between $30 and $80 a bottle, it’s worth the effort to find them. And their wines sell out fast. Wades Wines in Westlake carries a strong selection of Tantara wines.