Sunday, May 26, 2013

Grapes of Philanthropy - 1% For The Planet

The thing at the core, that draws me to wine, is its human-ness, if that's even a word. What I mean is, the way that wine influences people, places, and events. For example, almost every time I speak with a winemaker, about their wine, I hear words about quality, tradition, purity, and expression of place. I also see joy, and sincerity in the people speaking. Yes, it's a business, but for most winemakers, I believe, the business aspect is just a means by which these people can pursue what they love, a channel for being the person they want to be, a person giving something with soul to the world.

This belief of mine was reinforced one recent evening, at the Time Warner Center in New York, where I attended an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of 1% for the Planet, an organization that is successfully bringing businesses together with non-profit organizations in order to preserve and protect our planet and support communities. To date they have facilitated more than 100 million dollars of funding toward 3356 non-profits that are helping a wide variety of causes, ranging from Air Quality, to Sustainable Farming, to Wildlife Protection.

There are many intelligent aspects to the way 1% FTP accomplishes its goals; two especially stand out for me. First, is the way that the money gets to the non-profits. 1% FTP is not the middle-man; rather, the business makes its contributions directly to the organization that they wish to support, provides documentation of that financial support to 1% FTP, who then certifies them as actually having contributed one percent of their revenue toward one of the causes. Second, is the fact that 1% For The Planet does the investigation of the non-profits first, providing a long list to choose from, so companies can easily find an organization that matches their charitable goals. There are currently more than 1200 member companies, from six continents, engaged in this process. The results have been outstanding.
The theme for the evening, "Grapes of Philanthropy", was perfect since the featured speakers, both members of 1% FTP, are from the world of fine wine: Dick Parsons, owner of Il Palazzone, an outstanding winery in Tuscany, and Charles and Ali Banks, founders of Cultivate Wines.

Dick Parsons, Il Palazzone Winery, Tuscany

Il Palazzone chose Pesticide Action Network from the list of non-profits because they have seen firsthand how pesticide use can impact the Earth, and diminish sustainability. There are no chemical pesticides used in the vineyards at Il Palazzone, and a variety of environmentally conscientious techniques are practiced in the vineyards, winery, and shipping to ensure minimal impact.
In his comments, Mr. Parsons provided some insight into his reasons for being affiliated with 1% FTP. He stated the fundamental fact that, "You can't just keep taking and taking from the have to give back." He also noted that when you understand that sustainability keeps productivity alive then, "You establish that it's in your business interest to save the planet."
Il Palazzone produces one of the top Brunello Di Montalcino and under Dick’s leadership, is making key improvements each year to bring the quality to an even higher level. In speaking with him, I got a clear impression that he loves the business he entered in 2000, and puts quality as a top priority. He presents an easy going manner, and gives little indication of his noteworthy past, as CEO of Time Warner, and Chairman of Citigroup. I am currently working on an in depth look at Il Palazzone, and will publish that in the coming months.

Ali and Charles Banks, Cultivate Wines
Ali and Charles Banks are the founders of Cultivate Wines, a business they created with the core goal of giving back 10% to community. This came out of a moment of reflection about what they wanted more of in their lives, which, as it turns out, is what we all want more of: love, happiness, friendship, and celebration with friends. The word "Cultivate" in the name is short for Cultivate Change, which is what they are doing. In one year's time they contributed $459,000 to 45 communities, supporting education and basic human needs. Membership in 1% For The Planet was a natural for for them. I strongly encourage you to go to their site and watch the videos that well illustrate the wonderful impact of their efforts.

Oh yeah, they make wine too. What you will find in their line-up, are wines that come from around the world and provide strong value and quality. A key criteria, in the types of wines they sell at Cultivate, springs from their experience as the former owners of Screaming Eagle, perhaps the ultimate cult Napa Cab. In their comments at the event, Ali and Charles both described how it was both gratifying and disappointing to see a bottle of "Screagle" go for thousands of dollars at a charity auction. Yes, they were happy to see the money go to worthy causes, but were saddened that more people couldn't participate in the giving on that occasion. They also lamented that more people couldn't enjoy their wine, because it was so expensive. Those feelings, along with their desire to cultivate the important things in their lives, and the lives of others, inspired them to start Cultivate Wines and to partner with 1% For The Planet. Their wines are priced in such a way that anyone can enjoy them, and it doesn't have to be a state dinner to open and enjoy a bottle with friends. In addition, every person who purchases their wine is giving back to worthwhile causes.
Left to right: Tina Peterson. Charles and Ali Banks, Dick Parsons, Terry Kellogg Photo: Bob Fyke,

Terry Kellogg , CEO of 1% FTP
Wrapping up the evening, with a few poignant words, was Terry Kellogg, CEO of 1% For The Planet. 

Making a fitting analogy, he recounted the story behind the American Civil War song, The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Its author, Julia Ward Howe, wrote stirring, and motivational words, that she hoped would move people to action, but she did not write the music. Instead, she wisely set the lyrics to a tune that was very popular at the time, thereby taking advantage of an existing energy, in order to drive interest in, and adoption of, her words.With this method, she hoped to move people to action.

The same philosophy is at work in 1% FTP; the important message of protecting, and giving back to the Earth is being carried by the energy of successful businesses who are contributing their momentum to the causes identified by 1%.. 

Terry reiterated the point, "If you keep on taking, and taking, and taking from the land, eventually, the land will give out.". 1%, and its partners, are working hard to reverse that trend.

I found the evening to be eye opening, and moving. The atmosphere amongst those in the room there at The Time Warner Center was one of great synergy and motivation. A clear message was conveyed; good business requires good Earth citizenship.1% For The Planet is busy facilitating that practice.

Wines Poured

Fittingly, there were two wines poured during the event, from two member companies, the 2009 Cultivate Dream Walking Chardonnay. I didn't get to spend much time with the Dream Walking Chard, so I don't have detailed notes, but I do recall it being clean, and crisp, with good minerality.

The second wine was the 2007 Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino. The nose is focused and solid, with Asian spice, wood and leather notes, dark strawberry and black cherry.  The spice carries through to the palate, which is still young and firm,with lean dark fruit, charred brambles, good balance and plenty of firm tannins on the finish. There is nice length here with incense and charred wood carrying on. More complexity developed over time in the two glasses that I enjoyed, which is always a good sign. It's a bit clunky at this time, but has all the components in good quantity to meld together with a little age. This is serious Brunello. 93 Pts

No comments:

Post a Comment