A highlight of last Thursday's wine gala which raised £1.8 million/$3 million for Room to Read was a suggestion from the talented head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Willi Klinger.
The Board had already very generously donated the following wines which really opened the eyes of the assembled members of the financial community to the fact that not all of the world's great wines come from France, Italy and California.
Bründlmayer, Brut 2010 Kamptal
Hirtzberger, Honivogl Grüner Veltliner 2012 Wachau
Salomon, Kögl Riesling 2011 Kremstal
Loimer, Dechant Pinot Noir 2011 Kamptal
Muhr van der Niepoort Blaufränkisch 2011 Carnuntum
Esterházy Scheurebe/Roter Traminer Beerenauslese 2010 Neusiedlersee-Hügelland
But Willi also presented the founder of Room to Read John Wood with a cheque for €10,000, an alternative way of spending the board's Christmas budget. So, they will not be sending Christmas cards and Sachertortes this year. But they will glow with the knowledge that their donation has easily paid to establish a library that will serve at least 300 children in the developing world, bringing the gift of literacy to Asia and Africa. And they can be safe in the knowledge that this carefully audited charity is one with notably low overheads and high efficacy. The picture is of a library established by Room to Read in Zambia. And do check out their brilliant new short video Do Not Read This.
Most of us, in a personal and/or professional role, spend quite a bit on routine Christmas cards and gifts. Perhaps this is the time to consider donating to a favourite cause instead. Tonight, along with Hugh Johnson and many a member of the British wine trade, I will be at a dinner at Vintners' Hall in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care – another very worthwhile charity that runs hospices such as the one a stone's throw from where we live. Wish us luck for raising as much as possible, with fine wines donated by, inter alia, Christian Seely of AXA Millesimes.
And then donations are being sought by the UK wine trade charity, The Benevolent, in memory of the late Yvonne May who ran Wine Australia in the UK before being taken from us recently by leukaemia.