SF Wine Blog

Exploring wine in and around San Francisco.

Charitable Pursuits: Wine-Related Fundraisers

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Every month, there are a number of wine-related fundraisers in San Francisco. Below is a recap of some of the events we’ve attended, and we hope you will find time to support these worthwhile organizations.

We also wanted to let you know of a fundraiser next Friday (April 29).

Event postponed until May 20.  I’ll post additional details as they become available.  [Updated 4/26/2011]

Wines for Japan will raise money for Japanese earthquake relief efforts, and all proceeds will go to the American Red Cross.

Commonwealth Club
595 Market Street
San Francisco, CA

5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ($20 in advance / $30 at the door) tickets here

While the line-up of wines is still being finalized, there will be some top-notch cab from Cornerstone Cellars and plenty of Pinot from Hirsch Vineyards. Plus, local importers Blue Danube and Vinos Unico will be pouring wines from their portfolios (which means Central Europe and the Iberian Peninsula will be well represented at this event). There will also be a silent auction where you can bid on magnums donated by Cornerstone and Hirsch, and other wine-related items. Hope to see you there!

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Although Portugal is best known for, well, Port, the country produces an astounding array of white, red, and sparkling wines, as well. Portugal can be a difficult wine region to master. Dry Portuguese wines most often contain blends of lesser-known grapes, like Alfrocheiro, Trincadeia, and Loureiro.

ViniPortugal is an organization created to increase the international understanding of and appreciation for Portuguese wines, and its grand tasting in SF offered an amazing opportunity to taste a wide variety of these wines, talk to many of the producers, and raise money for Meals on Wheels San Francisco, which delivers nutritious meals to homebound senior citizens.

The event featured more than 40 wine and Port producers, many of whom are not currently represented in the United States (ie, they don’t have a US importer or distributor). The wines ranged from light and crisp Vinho Verdes to full-bodied red blends. The latter group comprised my favorites, including the 2007 Post Scriptum by Chryseia in the Douro region; the wine is a great example of a common blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (aka Aragonês or Tempranillo), and Touriga Franca. While most Portuguese wines are blends, I talked with a few producers who are experimenting with single-varietal wines, largely in an effort to develop an iconic varietal to represent Portugal. They seem to be leaning towards Touriga Nacional to be for Portugal what Malbec has become for Argentina.

For another opportunity to support Meals on Wheels SF, check out their annual fundraiser, the Star Chefs and Vintners Gala, coming up on May 15th.

-Derek

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Each year, the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation hosts “Wines and Wishes” — an event that brings together some of the top restaurants and well-known wineries for a grand tasting, a special dinner, and an auction. This year’s restaurant participants were a virtual “who’s who” of the Bay Area food world: Barbacco, The Slanted Door, Namu, and Dry Creek Kitchen were passing out nibbles at the opening event; Fleur de Lys, Boulevard, and Quince provided the executive chefs for the dinner part of the evening.

The tasting room was filled with some very recognizable names from Napa: Cakebread, Duckhorn, Far Niente, Frog’s Leap, and Nickel & Nickel were all there, and they were pouring their signature cabs, merlots, and the occasional Sauv Blanc and Zin. There were a handful of Sonoma producers also on hand, including Gundlach Bundschu, but there seemed to be a strong leaning towards the Napa Cab houses. That in itself was a treat: I can’t imagine being able to cover so many wineries in one visit up the Silverado Trail, so having these wineries come to the METREON (a short cab ride away) was a treat.

The event was well planned and well laid out. There were many food stations interspersed through the tasting room to make it easy to pair these full bodied wines with small plates. Despite all the high-brow food being passed around, my personal favorite was a buttermilk biscuit fried chicken sandwich from 15 Romolo — a place better known for its cocktails — and Kara’s Cupcakes finished a strong second (what can I say? I have a sweet tooth).

All you Napa Cab fans should line up to go to this event next year — not only is a treat to be able to taste these wines in your own hometown, but the Make A Wish Foundation is a fine organization and well deserving of your support.

-John

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The St. Anthony’s Foundation supports the under-privileged of San Francisco by providing basic needs and services (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc.) as a starting point to helping these people reclaim their sense of dignity progress towards stability. St. Anthony’s has been using the same dining room since 1950, currently serving approximately one million meals each year. Realizing the need for a new facility, they embarked on their current fundraising campaign, and one of the key events was “A Toast to the First 60 Years.” The evening featured a reception, dinner, and a tasting seminar with renowned wine expert and educator Kevin Zraly — the 2011 winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kevin Zraly is the founder of the Windows on the World Wine School and the author of the “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course.” He hails from the same small town in New York as one of St Anthony’s board members, and thus agreed to offer his “One Hour Wine Expert” seminar at this event. While obviously an overview, the seminar did a good job of breaking the world of wine down into simple concepts while providing a number of interesting statistics and insights into how people taste and experience wine.

Close to 100 people attended the event, raising over $15,000 for St Anthony’s new dining facility.

-Derek

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