Coronavirus Creativity

May 9, 2020

Following on from my Blog of April 24, where I mentioned some of the initiatives happening here in Australia, I came across the article in Wine Spectator detailing what is being done in the USA.

Here are some of the highlights “cut & pasted” from the article:

► Legend of Hollywood and vine Francis Ford Coppola announced a campaign to help children impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Francis Ford Coppola Winery, in Geyserville, Calif., is joining forces with No Kid Hungry, the winery is donating $150,000 to the organization to help it feed vulnerable children who are dependent on school meals. “Nothing is more important to me than our kids,” Coppola said in a statement. “They need good, nourishing food in order to learn, and they must learn or there’ll be no future.”…

► Actors and social-distancing butterflies Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were not previously known for wine-world crossovers, but saw the opportunity to put good Pinot toward a good cause during the pandemic. On April 19, they announced the launch of their new Quarantine Wine in collaboration with Nocking Point Wines and Portland, Ore.-based Battle Creek Cellars: a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir….  Beneficiaries include America’s Food Fund, Direct Relief, Frontline Responders Fund and GiveDirectly, charities that provide services like safe access to food, personal protective equipment for frontline workers, ventilators to medical facilities and cash grants.

The bottle wears a blank canvas as a front label, to encourage friends to write toasts to each other from afar. “Mila’s brilliant idea was to create a wine where we could actually give shoutouts to whoever we want with the wine,” Kutcher explains….

► Other A-listers, at least within West Coast wine, are also activating COVID charity efforts. Bogle Vineyards, in Clarksburg, Calif., spent around $60,000 to buy meals from Sacramento-area locally owned restaurants and give them to healthcare workers around the city. Santa Barbara County Vintners heard their local frontline responders wanted wine, and soon, U-Haul vans were dropping off cases right at the hospitals – 550 cases’ worth, donated by wineries around the region who heeded the call…

► The Great Brain Cell Sacrifice is the cheeky name of a charity label from Santa Barbara winemaker Justin Willet of Lieu-Dit that pledges to donate a book to a child in an underfunded community per bottle of wine sold; it is now ramping up to six-bottles/six-book “home library” collections to drive donations to kids learning to read in a time when schools are closed.

► Washington’s Goose Ridge Estate Winery (who I mentioned in my Blog back on 30-11-2018 for their wine in a can)… was getting ready to launch a vodka brand when cleaning duty called…. They are selling their newly created sanitizer products to the military and state of Washington, while donating gallons to first responders and local hospitals.

E. & J. Gallo Winery, the Modesto, Calif., wine juggernaut, is also spreading the love. It announced a $300,000 pledge from its Barefoot brand to the Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), which is providing assistance to the families of food and drinks pros who have been diagnosed with COVID-19…

► In Sonoma, Jordan winery’s charity arm, the John Jordan Foundation, paired with Sonoma Family Meal to pay local restaurants to keep their stoves hot, cooking meals for the community’s underserved; the campaign is called the Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund. Jordan put up $150,000, with the goal of having the charity match that. The $300,000 would keep open an estimated 20 kitchens and provide 65,000 meals….

Heitz Cellar, also in Napa, is counting its contribution in pounds – 500 pounds of Angus beef from the cattle it raises on 40 acres of its biodynamic farm. The winery has united with local relief groups Abode Services and the Table, as well as the Salvation Army, to donate the meat to families in need. The winery is also donating a percentage of its sales to restaurant employees impacted by COVID-19….

► Napa-based Hall winery is donating its employees. “Part of our longstanding benefit package is making available 40 hours per year at full pay that our employees can devote to local non-profit organizations,” said vintner Kathryn Hall. “In the aftermath of COVID-19… our volunteering has focused on food delivery and food bank – related projects. Some of our employees have used up all their community hours, but they continue to volunteer. This has been truly heartwarming.”…

Small wineries, big hearts: Though tasting rooms are closed, and most small wineries are hurting for income themselves, the most common method of philanthropy for them is donating proceeds from wine sales.

Santa Barbara winemaker Alecia Moore of Two Wolves – whose primary source of income has been selling 90 million records and touring under her stage name, P!nk – ccontracted the disease and recovered. She’s now pledging $1 million to the Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund and Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles.

To read the full online article from Wine Spectator, go to this link:

So guys, please stay safe and tell me what great and charitable things are being done by the Australian wine industry during this crisis to help our fellow citizens?

Cheers and keep enjoying good wine – the elixir of life!!

This Week's Wine Review:

For the first time in my over a decade as a wine journalist, today I am going to write about a wine that I have not had the chance to taste as yet.

For the reasons detailed below, I find this new sparkling wine extremely exciting. In fact the last time I got so excited about a sparkling wine was when I first heard of the British Nytimber (est. 1992) sparkling wine, when it won a gold medal at the International Wine & Spirits Challenge, in the Champagne class. A few years later one of its wines was the top scorer at a Champagne judging beating all the French Champagnes that had entered including many of the BIG names. Nytimber very kindly gave me a bottle of its 2005 Vintage and I paid the $100 postage to get it here. To this day the Nytimber 2005 Vintage is one of the best, most exciting bubbles I have tasted.

I have been tracking the progress of the MIN ZEVEN vineyard in the Netherlands over the last three to four years as it belongs to my fellow judge at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) in Amsterdam, Silvia Anthonj (there are 25 of us judges from around the world).

The vineyard is in Lelystad on the IJsselmeer where the IJssel used to flow into the Zuiderzee until the 1960s. The region is seven metres below sea level (hence the Minus Zeven name) and being a former river bed it is rich, alluvial soil with lots of shells and pebbles.

The first farms in the region were established on this former river bed in 1980. Right from the start, ecologically sound natural farming practices (organic) were established without the use of chemical sprays or agents.

Silvia and her husband wanted to produce sparkling wine so they carefully studied the suitability of different varieties to their area’s climate. Eventually they selected three hybrid varieties as the most suitable. They are Hibernal, Sauvinac and Souvignier Gris, none of which I have tasted before.  As you know I am a ‘nut’ for trying wines made from new/emerging varieties (having written articles on 62 emerging varieties thus far) so I am very keen to try these three – new-to-me varieties.

MIN ZEVEN have just now released their first sparkling wine – a wild yeast fermented, no dosage wine, which has its secondary fermentation done in bottle and is unsulfured and unfiltered, as natural as possible. So exciting!!

The tasting notes for the MIN ZEVEN BRUUT & BRUIZEND (yes that is how they spell “Brut” with a double “uu”), says: “Fresh citrus aromas, defining as lime one the palate, accompanied by zest and a tiny pinch of salt. The more it opens, the more it shows delicate notes of brioche. The fine mousse conjures a pleasant lightness to the luscious mouthfeel.”

Hopefully international travel restrictions will be lifted in time for me to be able to attend this year’s WBWE in Amsterdam, in late November, thus giving me the opportunity to taste this fascinating and unique sparkling wine.

Cheers and keep on trying different/unusual/exciting/emerging wines.