Great wine for a great cause

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Tefft Firefighter bottleLadies, get your judging caps on and your pencils poised to rate some of the buffest firefighters in the area.

Twelve lucky men will be chosen for a new philanthropic endeavor to benefit the Firefighter’s Lifeline Foundation (FLL).

The recently formed nonprofit organization was established to raise funds for a large number of local and national charities, as well as provide financial assistance to families in need within Washington state. According to FLL board member Dave Leggett, the group is planning to focus its efforts on the American Cancer Society, Northwest Burn Foundation and the Burn Children’s Recovery Foundation.

He says, “These are the three we’ve identified to benefit our fundraising work for this year.”

One of the organization’s projects, which will be launched next month, involves firefighters and wine in a unique collaboration between FLL and Tefft Cellars.

The idea, which is the brainchild of Rachel Weed, an FLL board member and general manager of Tefft Cellars, entails selling Tefft wine in bottles with labels featuring pictures of local real life heroes —  firefighters who are dedicating to serving and protecting their communities — and who just happen to have great bods to boot!

“We were looking for something high volume to sell,” explains Weed. “The firefighter calendars have always been popular, but people usually just buy one of those and then after February or so, you really can’t sell them anymore. With wine, however, that’s something that can be sold all year-round and in higher volumes, which will generate more money.”

Weed adds that the organization is in the midst of pitching the idea to Costco, as well as to other area wide grocery stores. She notes that Tefft is Costco’s largest box wine. The “Smokin’ Hot wines,” which they will be called, will come in either a red or white blend and be priced at under $20 a bottle. About 25 percent of the proceeds from each bottle will go to the FLL.

“Tefft has been around for many years,” says Weed, “and we put out a great product that is also affordable. We are a facility that produces 25,000 cases a year and we’re big enough to produce 25,000 more.”

The hope is for the project to generate upwards of $70,000 a year.

Paul Tollner, local owner of Tefft Cellars, describes this collaborative effort as a wonderful evolution of a terrific relationship.

He comments, “Tefft has become very attached to the Woodinville Fire Department ever since we had a chance to meet the crew during a 2010 fundraiser. Our tasting room has become a frequent venue for the fundraising efforts of local firefighters and this collaboration allows us to create a fun project that will provide revenues for their important charities throughout the years.” He adds, “We are even developing a special wine club for dedicated fans of these sexy bottles and we are hopeful that shoppers will also look forward to collecting the newest labels when they hit grocery shelves throughout the year.”

Firefighter wine collection auditions will be held beginning at 8 p.m. on May 12, at Snoqualmie Casino. The event is free and open to the public.

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