Last year, Josh Cellars rode into South Dakota as the first-ever wine sponsor of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and much fun was had watching some real gruff leather-clad Hell's Angels–type characters turn cherubic under the charms of rosé. But for its return to the road this year, the California winery decided to up the ante from "whimsical juxtaposition" to even more extreme stunts.
On Tuesday, as part of the rally's Military Appreciation Day, the winery sponsored a “Toast to Heroes” celebration featuring a parachute jump by Dana Bowman, a retired U.S. Army sergeant first class and the first double-amputee to re-enlist in the army after his accident.
This year, Josh is also extending the vibes beyond the rally through charitable initiatives. Following Bowman's daredevil demonstration, the Cabernet Sauvignon- and rosé-sipping crowd was encouraged to write notes of appreciation to active-duty service members, which the winery will deliver via the care-package delivery nonprofit Operation Gratitude.
If your hog was in the shop this year, you can send a toast from home as well: For every Instagram post or post on Josh Cellars' Facebook page accompanied by the hashtag #ToastToHeroes, the winery will donate $1 to the National Volunteer Fire Council and Operation Gratitude, up to $25,000 for each organization, through Aug. 31. It's founder Joseph Carr’s tribute to his father and winery namesake, Josh, who himself served as a volunteer firefighter and U.S. Army soldier.
Last month, wine and animal lovers from around the world turned out at Gamble Family Vineyards in Napa to attend the annual WineaPawlooza charity auction and tasting and support the work of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (JARR), a no-kill rescue for domestic and farm animals.
The 2018 extravaganza raised $1.4 million for the cause, led by a high-energy auction featuring rare and unique lots from Napa's finest names in wine; the top lot of the weekend was a “Unique Barrique” barrel's worth of 2018 Cabernet from the Beckstoffer Dr. Crane vineyard, to be made by Russell Bevan and Philippe Melka, that fetched $200,000.
But first, out pranced the real stars, in the annual pet parade: 200-pound pot-bellied pig Mr. Moo and once-homeless, now-glamorous Chihuahua Honey, adopted by Kelly Cater of Alpha Omega Winery, led the way.
Following the disastrous North Bay wildfires of 2017, WineaPawlooza organizers are especially focused on disaster-preparedness initiatives. “Our animal welfare work in the Napa Valley and surrounding areas is needed now more than ever with the devastating fires that are now the ‘new norm,’" JARR and WineaPawlooza cofounder Monica Stevens told Unfiltered. "The October wildfires brought home to us as an organization the desperate need for our community to have equipment ranging from stock trailers to dog/cat crates that are required to help rescue animals caught in natural disasters." JARR staff are also getting "fast-tracked" on training and certification to do rescue work on disaster frontlines.
Tom Gamble, owner of the winery, underscored the importance of the event, telling Unfiltered, “Everyone in Napa was somehow affected by the 2017 fires … Because of JARR and the intense devotion of its many volunteers developed under the leadership of Monica Stevens over the last half-decade, a force was quickly mobilized and many animals were saved. One can only imagine the emotional catharsis for both the pet and its human family upon reunification, and how such acts might, in some small way, help the healing process."
Gamble noted that the money raised would help fund the construction and upkeep of JARR's home and animal sanctuary and the acquisition of more animal rescue equipment, "so hopefully even more animals can be saved and reunited with their loved ones."
What's new in wine superheroes? A yearslong project called "Resdur" at France’s National Institute of Agronomical Research (INRA) is bearing fruit, but these are no ordinary grapes. Following many, many crosses of European, American and Asian vine species (rather than using genetically modified—GM—tech), INRA scientists have developed four red and white grape varieties with extreme resistance to fungal attacks from downy and powdery mildew.
These vinous winners of the genetic lottery, dubbed Araban, Floreal, Voltis and Vidoc, could help winemakers reduce the use of pesticides by 80 to 90 percent, lead researcher Didier Merdinoglu told The Telegragh. “We are talking about dropping from an average of 15 treatments (for fungal disease) per year to one or two," he said.
Naturellement, the development of mutt vines as a solution to, well, anything, has met with some resistance among purists, but we'll withhold judgment for the blind tasting: INRA expects the Resdur grapes to yield wine in bottle by 2020.
Cuddly We the Best DJ/producer DJ Khaled recently teamed up with a herd of adorably awkward fuzzy ungulates to meditate on Bumbu rum, finally bringing together the drinks world and the beloved new school of yoga in which practitioners stretch on a barnyard floor whilst furry baby quadrupeds scramble all over them.
Bumbu parent company Sovereign Brands CEO Brett Berish told Unfiltered, “A collaboration with DJ Khaled about ‘becoming the G.O.A.T.’ just made sense.” As much, if not more, sense than attempting to achieve oneness with the universe while juggling dubiously continent kid farm animals, a trend that Unfiltered hopes to see in these pages for many more drinks brands to come.
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