Ok, so here's the deal. I love making wine and being in the wine business. But ultimately, I don't want to be just another schmo schlepping wine. Where's the fun in that? I want to make a difference in the world - I think all of us do, in one way or another. But it's a challenge - you grow up, you have kids, and pretty soon you've got financial and time commitments that make it all but impossible to give of yourself. Amazingly, many people still do, which is a real tribute to the human spirit. But for the majority of us, whose paths have led us outside the direct philanthropic arena, and whose careers don't have a lot of cushion in them, it can be very difficult to help realize the changes that are so desperately wanted in the world.
My calling is winemaking. I wouldn't be happy doing anything else. So how could I turn that passion into a force for the greater good? My inspiration came from my friend Scott James, founder of Fair Trade Sports. Like that company, I decided (with Sarah's support) that Eleven Winery will always donate all of its profits to charity, specifically charities that focus on ending the cycle of poverty, in the U.S. and abroad. We anticipate reaching profitability in 2009; until then, we will donate $1,000 annually to World Bicycle Relief, an organization that provides bicycles to communities in Africa (they had a cool segment on the Today Show recently, btw). We will also continue to donate to charity auctions in our hometown and the Seattle area, as we have done since our first year - our contributions in this area totaled $9,000 in 2008, and helped those charities raise even more.
So that's it. I hope that what we have done is to create wines that you not only love and have fun with, but feel really good about drinking. You've earned it - by buying our wines you really are helping to make a difference. We will continue to keep you updated on these efforts as they progress.
If you'd like to know more about how it works to be a company that gives away all of its profits, read this great FAQ put together by Fair Trade Sports.