Hillside Winery Giving Back

Giving Back ♥

I recently travelled to Napa to attend the BC Wine Leader’s Forum. This is an event conceived ten years ago by UBC Okanagan, first through their School of Business and now through the Wine Research Center, as a means of connecting with the wine industry to assess how these groups can best work together.

This was the first time the forum was held outside of BC and I was eager to take the opportunity to connect with industry leaders in Napa, as well as visit the famed Opus One winery —the joint venture between Robert Mondavi and the Rothschild dynasty.

The focus was on sustainability in vineyard and winery so our first visit was to Cakebread cellars where the owner, Bruce Cakebread and Linda Reiff, the President & CEO of Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), walked us through the history of Napa Green—the made-in-Napa sustainability certification program. Napa Green has certified 95% of the wineries in Napa—an astonishing rate.

I asked how they were able to get so many wineries on board and the answer surprised me—it was largely because Robert Mondavi was the first to enroll. A proper sustainability program is a three-pronged endeavor, involving environmental stewardship, business feasibility, and contribution to the community.

Consequently the forum included visits to the Ole Health Care Center, funded largely by the Napa Valley Vintners association, the River Ranch Farmworker Housing Center, jointly funded by the county and the NVV, and the Culinary Institute of America, partially funded by, you guessed it, the NVV. Each establishment cited Robert Mondavi as being key in its inception and success. All of us attending the forum were quite inspired by this example of social involvement.

At Opus One we learned the history of the Mondavi-Rothschild partnership, and as expected much praise-singing of the founder. That evening we ate at Bottega, in Yountville, where naturally there were no tables free on such short notice. We sat at the bar and were soon joined by a young local couple. She worked in marketing and he, born and raised in Napa, worked in production for a winery on the Silverado Trail.

Curious as to whether we were being sold a bill-of-goods, I asked him his impression of Robert Mondavi.

He literally misted over, describing how much the man had done for the industry but more for the Napa community.
He said the family “had to sell because he was just too kind, too generous”. (Mondavi Family Winery sold to Constellation Brands in 2004, shortly after the founder’s retirement.

Here in BC, the needs of the community are somewhat different, as we have socialized medicine, and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program ensures that employers meet the needs of our agricultural workers.

However, in a region with housing costs often inflated due to the tourism industry, the needs of the local community can be dire.

The Naramata Bench Wineries Association has a long history of partnering with charitable organizations to raise donations totalling well over half a million dollars in the last decade.

Donations have supported multiple arts and cultural organizations, the Ocean Wise Conservation Association, Make A Wish Foundation BC/Yukon, scholarships, nature preservations, and many other community, service and health charities in multiple cities in BC and Alberta.

Many wineries have chosen key charities to support, Hillside’s charity of choice is OneSky, through the sale this year of OneSky 2020 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon ($10 donated per bottle sold).

I have had the privilege and pleasure to spend my life working in an industry that is mentally and creatively stimulating and rewarding and has offered me the means to live and raise a child in this special valley. I now have the honour to give back to our local community and I encourage everyone who can to do the same.

Kathy Malone signature
Kathy Malone, Winemaker

Kathy Malone