Monday, June 20, 2011

Take This Bottle For A Spin

Wineries are known for contributing small portions of sales to good causes, particularly programs involving the environment. And then there are the wineries that go above and beyond the call of duty.

Gordon Holmes, owner of California winery Lookout Ridge, started the business in 1998 after a long career in finance and publishing. But the same year that Holmes realized his lifelong dream of owning a winery, his wife, Kari, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Instead of derailing the family's plans for the winery, the news inspired Gordon to spring into action, leveraging his winery to do even more than just make great wine and money.

According to the UN's World Health Organization, there are over 150 million people around the globe in need of wheelchairs. Holmes is trying to chip away at that figure, donating a wheelchair--for each current-release or library wine purchased--to a person in need, somewhere around the world.

To date, Lookout Ridge has donated over 4,500 wheelchairs around the world. Holmes has personally delivered wheelchairs to Belize, Bolivia and Mexico, an experience that he treasures. “I’m a serial entrepreneur, and I love getting my hands dirty. One of my greatest pleasures is looking into the eyes of somebody’s life you’ve just changed.” Lookout Ridge tries to bring this experience to you; if you buy a bottle, you’ll also receive a picture of a wheelchair donation recipient.

Each bottle of Lookout Ridge wine is sold at a set price of $100, but the all-terrain wheelchairs that they donate cost $500-700 each. While he does lose money each year, he manages his losses by fostering “a community in a bottle,” striking deals with his bottle, label, and cork producers, not to mention star winemakers and corporate sponsors to help cover costs.

Next time you're looking to give someone a really special bottle of wine, keep Lookout Ridge in mind. Click here to learn more about the program or how to buy the wines.


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