A Glass a Day

Ronald Holden

Ronald Holden › Ronald Holden has been writing an award-winning food, wine & travel blog, Cornichon.org, since 2004. A ...

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Ronald Holden recently profiled Sozo, a new wine label from Washington State that has created award-winning wines. Sozo has also created remarkable business relationships with restaurants and non-profit charities, funding up to 25 meals for the needy with every bottle of Sozo wine purchased. Cheers!

Wine, nectar of the gods, is what the elites drink, an expensive indulgence for snobs. Martin Barrett has heard it all. He’s a wine guy, former owner of Cana’s Feast in Oregon, now living in Seattle and running inner-city social welfare programs.

Over a glass of wine one evening with his longtime friend Monte Regier—a human resources manager who’d just returned from a stint on a hospital ship in Liberia—the talk turned to the contrast between Africa’s grinding poverty and America’s pockets of poverty in a land of abundance. Barrett realized that for a dollar a day he could feed a hungry kid. Not in some distant land but here at home, where he knew well that there are too many hungry kids.”This glass of wine,” he said, “could feed a kid.”

And so was born the concept of Sozo (a Greek word that suggests rescue), a unique project that shares the revenue from wine sales with local food banks.

Barrett understood that Sozo had to start with excellent wines, “but the last thing the industry needs at this point is another new winery.” Yet, there’s a lot of good juice out there, languishing, begging for a good home. Tasting tank samples around Woodinville that seemed to have some potential, Barrett and Regier discovered the talents of Cheryl Barber Jones, the former wine maker for Chateau Ste. Michelle, now a freelance consultant. She began working her “magic,” blending stray lots so that the sum was greater than its parts.

In its first year, Sozo released six or seven wines, whites like riesling and pinot gris; reds like pinot noir, tempranillo, a Rhone blend, a Bordeaux blend, in addition to special bottlings for the Rotary Club. So far, so good. In fact, the Rhone blend was named best of class at the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition last year and the Bordeaux blend won a gold medal; priced at $120, it sold out.

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Photo Credit: Ronald Holden