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Week 172 - Water From Wine

For the 172nd week of "7 QUESTION SUNDAY" we shine the spotlight on another influential individual from the PNW. Water from Wine is a nonprofit funding clean water projects through wine!

4EVRGRN: Hey, AL! Tell us a little about yourselves.

AL: My name is AnnaLee, I am Water From Wine’s Executive Wine Officer – I have a BA in Global Wine Studies and I am the only wine specialist in the organization. I also have a background in the nonprofit field, marketing, and community development. I started with Water from Wine in 2018 when they opened the original Leavenworth tasting room. I started suggesting we open a tasting room in the Tacoma area back in 2019. We have had a weekend booth at the Point Ruston indoor market since November 2020. In a few months we will be opening a full Tacoma tasting room at 1704 Pacific Ave, just below the UWT campus. I am pretty excited to be back in this area and working with the local community. We have a few clean water partner groups who are based nearby, which will provide more opportunity to collaborate on events and fundraisers.

Why is clean water such a global crisis?

AL: According to the World Health Organization1 in 3 people globally do not have access to safe drinking water. Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities. Research indicates as many as 200 million hours a day are spent collecting water, mainly by women and children (WHO, Unicef). Time spent collecting water can take children, especially girls, away from school, and can draw women away from income-earning activities.

Why is philanthropy so important to you?

AL: The true philanthropist here is Pat Tucker, the Founder of Water From Wine. He came up with the concept of using the 6-acre vineyard on the family farm to raise money and give back after surviving a tragic event. He is one of the kindest people you could ever meet.

I think everyone in our organization has an interesting back story with humanitarian and environmental interests at heart.

You have an incredible origin story; can you share with us how Water from Wine came about? 

AL: The origin of Water from Wine is somewhat surprising. As Pat tells it: “In the spring of 1996, a former employee and two of his cohorts abducted me. During my 18 hours of captivity, I was bound hand and foot, tortured and subjected to mock execution. After initially resigning myself to death, I experienced a spiritual conversion in the middle of the night in which I heard the prayers of those who were worried about my return. I pledged my heart to Jesus and prayed for my safety. The next day I was released during a ransom exchange. Upon my return several friends and family noted that God must have some big plans for me. All these years later, it dawned on me: This is it … Water from Wine.”

Jamie, Pat’s daughter and WFW’s Executive Director, was working in Uganda when the idea for Water From Wine really began to formulate and she was a big contributor to the concept and marketing idea behind how our organization operates.

What makes wine culture in the PNW so unique?

AL: PNW wine culture is unique for a number of reasons. The industry is fast growing here but the competition is friendly. For instance, we work with different wine makers – our main wine maker for each vintage from the founder’s vineyard is Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas Wines. Andrew Martinez of Martinez Martinez Winery makes our Rose from the founder’s vineyard. We have worked with several other winemakers to bring in other varietals and diversify our tasting menu – I get to explore, taste and select these, which is a fun perk of the job for me. I find that most people working in the wine industry here are inviting and like to help educate patrons or new customers – which helps eliminate the snob factor often associated with wine. There is a vast amount of grape types or varietals grown here. I always say that if you want a well-rounded understanding of the world, learn about wine – it is true for our region as well.  Learning about wine will open up new stories of our history, geology, art, agriculture, environmental standards and more. When you learn about wine, you simply never stop learning.

What partnerships have your formed on your mission to provide clean water globally?

AL: We have 15 active partnerships with clean water organizations which all have their own specified water technologies and focus on specific areas in need of potable water and water infrastructure. These “active partners” get their own wine label on consecutive vintages from the founder’s vineyard. We are basically granting them money from our wine sales and their grant application is to create a wine label. Whenever their label sells, they receive $35/bottle from us.  At the end of the year, we also have funds which we grant out to organizations with specific needs. This year we reached our million-dollar donation mark toward funding clean water access.

  1. Where can people try and buy your wines?

AL: We have our original tasting room at the vineyard location in Paterson WA – which is part of the Horse Heaven Hills American Viticulture Area (growing region). This is also where we hold our annual volunteer harvest – and this year we can bring it back after covid! You can also taste at our weekend booth at Waterfront Market at Ruston. We recently moved to a new Leavenworth location, opening soon. Tacoma tasting room will open in a few months. You can also order online. And keep an eye open for us at other markets – we have been to the Hilltop Indoor Market and we may be popping up at Gig Harbor, Tacoma Night Market and a few more before our doors open in Tacoma. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for all these announcements!

  1. What is your most popular wine?

AL: That is a tough question! I think it depends on the season and every customer has a different palate so it really fluctuates. Our Chardonnay is stainless, so no oak has touched it and it has been very popular.  But we did just sell out of our 2018 Rose and the 2019 Rose is flying off the shelf this summer because it has a light tropical sweetness to it which is great on a hot summer day – I like to call it a “porch pounder” because it goes down a little too easy! 

I appreciate all of our reds for the different characteristics they present (which makes them fun to pair with different foods). The 2015 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and 2016 Horse Heaven Hills, Founder’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon are my personal favorites.  However, the 2015 Horse Heaven Hills, Founder’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is what I call a “crowd pleaser” because it is a little fruit forward with a smooth finish.

We do have some new releases on the way which I am really excited about. A special bottle “Water Voyager Viognier” with a beautiful label design by Natalie, our new Media Specialist & Event Intern. There will also be a Dry Riesling, Founder’s 2021 Rose, Merlot, Syrah, and the Founder’s 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Learn more about wine and working towards ending water crises globally at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram all @waterfromwine and Website: www.waterfromwine.org