Philanthropy is a significant part of those who live and work in California Wine Country. Here are the wineries whose good deeds (and wines) deserve a standing O every day.
Harvest in the wine country has come to a close, and the season for giving has begun. With that in mind, we wanted to focus on local wineries that make philanthropy an integral part of their year-round culture and mission. Enjoy these favorites where patrons can help make the world just a little better—one sip at a time.
The leadership at family-owned Sosie Wines has a big heart for the arts and is the exclusive wine sponsor of Bouquets to Art at the de Young Museum. The program supports 100 of the Bay Area’s most innovative and sought-after floral designers. Sosie also is the exclusive wine sponsor of Magic Theatre in Fort Mason, supporting performing artists in San Francisco. The winery sources fruit from farms that implement the highest standards, such as the mountaintop-certified organically farmed Charlie Smith Vineyard and Rossi Ranch.
Insider’s tip: Located in the Sonoma Plaza, Sosie Wines’ tasting room is down to earth, and the winery specializes in organically and sustainably farmed wines inspired by old-world winemaking. Choose from outdoor or indoor seating for a casual but luxurious tasting. Don’t Miss A Moment of Weakness sparkling red.
RODNEY STRONG VINEYARDS
This family-owned winery has been committed to the community since 1959 and has a long history of philanthropic involvement with local schools and many charitable organizations. Rodney Strong supports the World Central Kitchen, Meals on Wheels Sonoma County and Sonoma County Grape Growers’ Farmworker Resiliency Fund, which supports agriculture workers and their families who were displaced from their homes and lost wages as a result of the Northern California wildfires. In 2021, Rodney Strong Vineyards was presented with the Nick Frey Community Contribution Award to recognize the company’s ongoing support of local agriculture, farm workers and the Sonoma County grape-growing community.
Insider’s tip: Attend one of the winery’s summer events, especially the annual summer concert series that features renowned and iconic entertainers, award-winning wines and local food purveyors at the scenic Concert Green & Terrace. Fans of rosé and pinot noir will love the bottles here.
Wente Vineyards’ Artist Series wines include 2018 Duetto, 2018 Sonata, 2018 Harmony and 2018 GSM, with labels created by Bay Area artist Janeen Heath.
This philanthropic winery established the Wente Foundation for Arts Education, with the mission to raise money for arts education programs in the Livermore Valley and throughout the Bay Area. Last year, the family-owned winery crossed a milestone by donating more than $1.15 million to arts education programs since its inception in 2012. New this year, 5% of all its Artist Series wine sales are donated to the foundation.
Insider’s tip: Check out the reserve tasting, which features four small-lot wines served with dishes—developed in-house by the winery’s chef—to complement and accentuate each wine’s flavors. The four-course pairings are seasonally inspired and thoughtfully explained. And true patrons never overlook the vineyard’s Artist Series wines.
ONE HOPE WINE
A new winery to Napa, One Hope opened its doors in 2021 with philanthropy as one of its primary objectives. Every bottle of One Hope supports a meaningful cause, with more than $8 million donated to date. From building three schools in the developing world to planting a forest in Indonesia, One Hope is making a difference with every bottle it sells. Try the benchmark wine-and-bites experience from grape to glass with a behind-the-scenes tour of the production space followed by a seated food and wine pairing.
Insider’s tip: Don’t overlook the cabernet sauvignon.
CASTELLO DI AMOROSA WINERY
On behalf of the winery, owner Dario Sattui recently signed a conservation easement with the Anderson Valley Land Trust for the 77.5-acre Dennison Ranch north of Boonville in the Anderson Valley, ensuring that this property will be protected and preserved. He also recently donated $1 million to the Napa County Board of Education, the largest donation ever made to a Napa Valley school by a Napa Valley vintner. Castello is a majestic, massive and full-size castle that offers extensive tours of its production area, underground cellars, armory and the grand barrel room, where guests taste cabernet sauvignon directly from the barrel.
Insider’s tip: Regulars adore the single-vineyard Morning Dew Ranch pinot noir.
The culinary garden at Chalk Hill Estate Winery.
CHALK HILL ESTATE WINERY
Celebrating 50 years, this historic, family-owned winery made a $25,000 donation in 2022 to the Future Farmers of America, its garden team makes substantial donations of fresh produce from the winery’s culinary garden to organizations such as the Healdsburg Food Pantry and The Redwood Empire Food Bank, and it is the host of the 2022 Sonoma County Auction, which has raised $39 million for charitable organizations since its inception.
Insider’s tip: The 1,300-acre property features 300 acres of vineyards, wilderness areas and a culinary garden. Taste the wines, especially the estate sauvignon blanc, and tour the estate and garden during a Hummer tour.
Rombauer Vineyards’ cave
This iconic family-owned Napa Valley winery donates $250,000 to charitable organizations each year. The contributions support the Rombauer four pillars of philanthropy: health and human services, education, agriculture, and active military, veterans and first responders. In 2021, the brand donated to more than 50 organizations to help further these missions, and, so far this year, has contributed to more than 30 organizations. In addition to all of its donations, the Rombauer Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund was established in memory of the winery’s founder and Koerner Rombauer’s first wife, Joan, who passed away from pancreatic cancer. In 2010, the Rombauer family also established a $4 million endowment, the Joan Rombauer UCSF Endowed Fellowship.
Insider’s tip: Take the cave tour and tasting at the St. Helena tasting room, or enjoy the food-pairing experience at the Sierra Foothills tasting room. Also, don’t leave the winery without trying the Carneros chardonnay and California zinfandel.
FOLEY JOHNSON WINERY
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Foley Johnson, and the family that owns it, has donated more than $2 million dollars to the Napa Valley Grape Growers through their charitable foundation, and their Farmworkers Foundation since 2012. This prominent Highway 29 winery is committed to environmentally sustainable farming and winemaking and produces Bordeaux-style red wines that highlight the region’s characteristic “Rutherford dust.”
Insider’s tip: The winery’s laidback spaces are perfect for casual private tastings and a little bocce while enjoying the Pat’s Blend.
Nickel & Nickel Winery hosts the V Foundation Wine Celebration each year.
NICKEL & NICKEL WINERY
This rustic and coveted winery has served as the home of the V Foundation Wine Celebration, which has raised more than $137 million to support the V Foundation’s fight against cancer. Nickel & Nickel has donated more than $175,000 annually to the event and also supports the arts through its annual partnership with Festival Napa Valley; the winery also rescues horses, including retired champions.
Insider’s tip: Try the Terroir Tasting, which is a unique opportunity for cabernet sauvignon fans to taste through eight single-vineyard cabernets.
Pat’s Blend from Foley Johnson
Photography by: EMMA K. MORRIS; COURTESY OF WENTE VINEYARDS; CHALK HILL ESTATE WINERY; ROMBAUER; NICKEL & NICKEL; BY ROCCO CESELIN