Destinations / APPELLATIONS
Good wine is powerful. It connects, inspires
and amplifies. The most important moments
in love, life and business are often paired with
fine wines, celebrated around a dinner table.
Scientists claim that wine tasting engages more
of the human brain than other human behaviors.
Wine even allegedly connects us to the divine.
So, it shouldn’t surprise that great philanthropy
flows from great wines too. B Y SUSAN NOYES
Susan B. Noyes is the founder and chief visionary officer of Make It Better Media Group, as well as the founder of Make It Better Foundation’s Philanthropy
Awards. A mother of six, former Sidley Austin labor lawyer, U. S. Congressional aide, passionate philanthropist and intuitive connector, she has served on
the boards of the Poetry Foundation, Harvard University Graduate School of Education Visiting Committee, American Red Cross, Lurie Children’s Hospital,
Annenberg Challenge, Chicago Public Education Fund, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New Trier High School District 203 and her
beloved Kenilworth Union Church. Most of all, she enjoys serving others, creating virtuous circles that amplify social impact for all.
AUCTION NAPA VALLEY Since its inception in 1981,
Auction Napa Valley has turned four days of parties, private dinners prepared by celebrities, concerts by rock stars,
and barrel, online and live auctions into over $170 million
to help provide everything from English language preparation for kindergartners to adult day services to Alzheimer’s
disease support. Last year, one lot alone raised $2.1 million — it included a Colgin Cellars horizontal collection of
large-format bottles of 2007 wines. Last year, more than
$13 million was raised.
NAPLES WINE AUC TION The Naples (Florida) Wine
Auction is especially critical to the community it serves,
because the local government provides no support for children’s social services. This annual event funds more than
50 percent of Collier County’s youth programs through
the auction’s beneficiary, Naples Children and Education
Foundation. Over $176 million has been raised to date.
STAGLIN FAMILY VINEYARDS The behemoths of wine-
based philanthropy may well be the Staglin family and their
eponymous Napa Valley vineyard. After their son Brandon
was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 19, owners Garen
and Shari Staglin resolved to be at the forefront of fundraising
for research to find mental illness cures. “Our family vineyard
motto is Great Wine for Great Causes, and we absolutely live
that at Staglin Family Vineyard,” Garen says. Great philan-
thropic numbers prove this too. The Staglins’ efforts include
an annual Music and Education Festival for Brain Health,
to be held this year on September 15, featuring Jennifer
Hudson and Mindstrong Health President Thomas Insel,
and two mental health foundations — Bring Change to Mind
and One Mind for Research. In addition, the Staglins have
chaired, co-chaired or founded at least 16 other major ini-
tiatives, raising over $800 million for institutions ranging
from UCLA to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
WINE COUNTRY WILDFIRES The abundance of support
for victims of last year’s wine country fires also attests to
wine’s community-uniting power. Donations immediately
arrived by the truckload. Vineyards and residents not
affected gave all they could to help the victims, then dug
even deeper. Signs popped up with slogans like “The love in
the air is thicker than the smoke.” Tourists booked special
fundraising visits soon after the fires to provide additional
help. This magazine was delighted to see that the matching grant promotion it formed in collaboration with the
Red Cross and other magazines, including Napa Sonoma,
Diablo, SPACES and Make It Better, raised over $20,000 in
under 24 hours.