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Winegrowers unite for charity

Fourteen of Geelong’s best winegrowers are uniting to give back to their community in a unique fundraising event to be held in early June. The selected growers have donated 20 litres each of their finest 2005 Shiraz which has been blended in a barrel and will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to United Way.

The Geelong Winegrowers Association chose United Way as the recipient of the auction winnings because the local charity organisation makes a large impact over a broad stretch of the Geelong community by providing funds to more than 65 local health and welfare agencies who provide support to the community and its people.

“We wanted to give back to the community that supports us, and United Way was the obvious choice. The organisation is responsibly managed and there is always someone you know from the community who has been touched by the charity. We’re really pleased to be part of the event that will assist United Way,” Matthew di Sciascio from the Geelong Winegrowers Association said.

“The event is also a great opportunity to help raise the profile and awareness of the Geelong region and its wineries,” he said.

Just five hours after Geelong winegrowers received the invitation to participate in the fundraising event, half of the required number of contributors had confirmed their involvement. The wine was then collected over a two-day period and each wine was tasted and assessed before being blended.

Wineries of all sizes have contributed to the barrel, which has been sponsored by Heinrich Cooperage, including Barrgowan Vineyard which only produces around five barrels of wine a year.

Matthew di Sciascio said the decision to choose Shiraz as the wine of choice was because Shiraz is considered Australia’s most popular and easily understood wine and therefore it would be easier to sell.

“We thought we’d dip our toes in the water and see how it goes. We chose Shiraz, because although Geelong is primarily a Pinot Noir region, from a consumer’s point-of-view bidders would want to feel confident in the wine they were bidding for and we felt that Shiraz was the most likely to do this.”

This is the first year the Association will hold the event and, if successful, Geelong Winegrowers intends to continue with the concept in future years.

“The growers believe that if we can raise between $7000 — $10,000 then it would have been a worthwhile exercise. Hopefully it will be the first of many and if we can raise it up to the level of the Coonawarra wine auction then that would be fantastic,” Matthew said.

The community spirit continues with well-respected local wine writer and wine judge, Randle Pollard, offering his time to speak at the auction and review the wine, in addition to writing the wine blurb for the bottle label.

“Everyone is working for the common good,” Matthew said.

“It’s a win-win situation for United Way because everything is being donated and they get to reap the rewards of the event,” he said.

There will be an opportunity for people to bid prior to the auction on United Way’s website, www.uwgeelong.com.au. On the night of the function there will also be a lead up auction for other items including a magnum of the ‘charity’ wine and a collection of Riedel glasses.

“We’re very excited about the auction as we are always keen to raise money for the community. To have the support of the Geelong Winegrowers Association is fantastic,” Kate Scaddan from United Way said.

“We haven been receiving a lot of interest. I think because it is such a unique sale that draws people’s attention to it. The region has some fantastic wine, and the whole concept of the auction by raising funds to help the community is what United Way is all about, so we’re excited. We’re looking forward to the night,” Kate said.

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