Monday, June 28, 2010

Drink to your health: The wine-medical research connection

As I discovered in researching my book Age Gets Better with Wine, from ancient times it has been wed to health care and healthy living. In modern times, wine has come to support medical research more directly, through charity auctions and direct funding. Credit the granddaddy of them all, the Hospices de Beaune, for showing the way. But some wineries are taking it a step further.


A few years ago I had the singular pleasure of attending the Staglin festival, which raises money for mental health research. What a glorious experience! All the top wineries in Napa participate, and although we had more wine that day than was strictly necessary for medical purposes, it was definitely a boon to my state of mind. Congrats to the Staglin family for raising awareness of an issue that many find uncomfortable and which suffers from a lack of research funding as a result. (The event is held every September, info on the Staglin website.)

Ehlers Estate is another winery that ties its profits directly to medical research, in this case heart health. Held in trust by the nonprofit Leducq Foundation, 100% of its proceeds go directly to fund research in cardiovascular diseases. Despite tremendous advances in treatment and prevention of heart disease (and an increasingly detailed understanding of the positive role of wine), it remains a leading cause of death worldwide.

“Live to Love Life” is the motto of the winery with my favorite name, Cleavage Creek. (Talk about the perfect wine for a plastic surgeon!) Profits from Cleavage Creek go to support breast cancer research, “one glass at a time.” Owner Budge Brown, who lost his wife Arlene to breast cancer in 1995, has made it his personal mission to do whatever he can to find a cure. Though I am sure that it was not what he expected when he started Cleavage Creek, it may very well turn out that wine holds one of the keys to winning that battle. We still have a long way to go, and ongoing funding remains crucial.

So drink to the health of your loved ones, celebrate life, and toast to those who are leading the way - preferably with a glass of Staglin, Cleavage Creek, or Ehlers Estate.

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