Sonoma County winemakers create new label to help Ukraine
With the Ukrainian people under constant bombardment by Russian troops in the continuing Russia-Ukraine war, three local winemakers are bottling up goodwill. They’re producing a pinot noir to raise money for those in the devastated country.
Adam Lee of Clarice Wine Co., Dianna Novy of Flaunt Wine Co. and Scott Shapley of Flywheel Wines are crafting three barrels of wine, with the goal of raising roughly $65,000 to donate to World Central Kitchen. Based in Washington, D.C., the organization was established in 2010 after an earthquake ravaged Haiti. World Central Kitchen provides meals to those in crises, whether caused by climate change or war. The organization is currently feeding people in Ukraine and the refugees who have fled to Poland.
“It’s always difficult to see the effects of war, but it’s very poignant when you’re looking at pictures of a place where you actually lived,” Shapley said. He and his wife, Laura Hoover, lived in Ukraine from 1997 to 1999, when Hoover worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development on business development and defense conversion in the former Soviet Union.
“It just has a very strong impact when you can imagine that the places you used to walk by may have been bombed,” Shapley said. “Very surreal, and very real at the same time.”
Shapley and Hoover lived in Kyiv and spent a good deal of time in Lviv, Kharkiv, Crimea and the countryside, along with visits to many other cities and regions.
Lee and Novy founded Santa Rosa’s Siduri Wines in 1994 and hired Shapley as their first employee in 1999. The three reunited for this project, each drawn to play a role in helping those under siege.
The back label on their new bottling, dubbed Tryzub, explains its aim: “Tryzub or Trident is a central symbol of Ukraine. Combining the concepts of the cross and the anchor, it represents a uniquely Ukrainian combination of sacrifice and strength. Over these last months, the world has found itself amazed at the resilience of the Ukrainian people.”
“The idea for this wine came about simply from conversations Dianna, Scott and I had after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and seeing the terrible refugee crisis this created,” Lee said. “As parents, Dianna and I saw the horrible effects this had on children and it caused our hearts to ache.”
Lee said he frequently crossed paths with Shapley and they talked about his experiences in Ukraine.
“From there, it was simply pulling the pieces together,” Lee said.
The winemakers are working on Tryzub, which will sell for $80 a bottle, in between working on their other labels.
After selling Siduri to Jackson Family Wines in 2015, Lee and Novy created new ventures. Lee is the vintner and winemaker of Windsor’s Clarice Wine Co. and co-owner at Beau Marchais Winery with French winemaker Philippe Cambie. Novy is the vintner and winemaker of Windsor’s Flaunt, a sparkling wine label. Shapley is co-vintner of Flywheel Wines in the Chalone American Viticultural Area and the winemaker for Roar Wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands.
“There is a good deal of personal gratification in bringing the Siduri crew back together again,” Lee said. “I think we all look back on our time at Siduri as a thrilling time of growth and discovery that cannot be replicated. This project allows us to resurrect some of that excitement. Doing so for such a worthy cause — and one that we feel close to given our ties through Scott … anly makes the reunion more special.”
Each winemaker is donating a barrel of pinot noir, and they’ll be working together on the final blend. Novy’s fruit comes from the Peake Ranch Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County. Lee’s grapes are from the Clos Pepe Vineyard from the same American Viticultural Area, while Shapley’s fruit hails from the Brosseau Vineyard in the Chalone AVA.
The wine was made at both Grapewagon Custom Crush in Healdsburg and at Roar Winery in Castroville and will be bottled in August at Grapewagon. Roughly 70 cases of the pinot noir will raise about $65,000 for World Central Kitchen.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet Chef (José) Andrés (of World Central Kitchen) over the years at the Wine Spectator Experience, and he is truly a remarkable individual,” Lee said. “His efforts to feed people in need around the world are unparalleled.”
Lee said, “While we realize that $65,000 is a small amount compared to the need, we hope that it will provide food and help to those who need it the most.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5310.