It’s heartening to know in these tumultuous times of conflicting values that there are producers of our favorite elixir who want to make a direct, positive contribution. Here are some wines to enjoy this holiday season of giving with the comfort of knowing that proceeds go to very good causes.
PlumpJack Wines: PlumpJack honors Tessa Thomas Newsom, who lost her fight against breast cancer in 2002. All proceeds of Tessa’s Cuvee Chardonnay go directly to the Stanford Supportive Care Center. This complex, medium-bodied wine from Russian River grapes has a satin-like texture featuring hints of pineapple and pear. As you toast and pair this wine with shellfish, prawns, or lobster, remember the generous philanthropy of the PlumpJack Group (415-346-9870, plumpjackwines.com).
Ehlers Estate: This unique winery actually belongs to a not-for-profit foundation. When founder Jean Leducq passed away in 2002, he left a foundation that he and his wife, Sylviane, had started in 1996. As a result, 100 percent of the proceeds from Ehlers Estate wine sales go to cardiovascular research. The winery, located north of downtown St. Helena, uses organic and biodynamic growing practices with their Bordeaux grape varieties. If you like big and “chewy” reds (a meal in a glass), try the 2012 Estate 1886 Cabernet (707-963-5972, ehlersestate.com).
Emtu Estate: This small winery in Forestville is owned and operated by John and Chris Mason who produce wine from the grapes grown in their three-acre backyard. All proceeds from their wine sales are donated to charity through their Labyrinth Foundation. When the couple isn’t busy with the winery or caring for rescued birds housed on their property, they travel around the world helping needy communities. Their Pinot Noir is truly exceptional — it’s been served at Chez Panisse, A16, and at President Obama’s inaugural dinner (707-887-1239, emtuwines.com).
Lookout Ridge: Lookout Ridge gives more money to charity than it takes in. For every case of Lookout Ridge wine purchased, the winery gives a wheelchair to a needy individual through their Wines for Wheelchairs program. Each of these excellent wines (90+ points) is made by high-profile winemakers such as Greg LaFollette, Andy Erickson, and Cathy Corison. Current releases are a 2010 Andy Erickson Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2010 Brian Maloney Pinot Noir (707-282-9030, lookoutridge.com).
Staglin Family Vineyard: Philanthropy has always been important to Garen and Shari Staglin. When their son was diagnosed with schizophrenia, they turned their efforts toward fundraising for mental health research. Buy their Napa Valley 2014 Salus Chardonnay (citrus, cream, almond, pear, cantaloupe, and lemon); the 2012 Estate (Rutherford) Cabernet Sauvignon (ripe red fruits, crème de cassis, cinnamon-chocolate); or the 2012 Booth Bella Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon (purple and blue fruits, tropical flowers, smoky spices) and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit continued mental health research (707-963-3994, staglinfamily.com).