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How about the next time you choose a wine from the retail shelf, you reach for the one wine that’s not only good for your heart, but for everyone’s heart? That would be Colby Red, a delicious yet inexpensive California red wine crafted by famed winemaker Daryl Groom, with help from his 15-year-old son, Colby.
Colby was the wine’s inspiration. lndeed, the project was his idea, after he survived a second open-heart surgery prior to his 13th birthday. The idea, Daryl says, “was that other kids wouldn’t have to go through a similar ordeal.” Profits are donated toward heart health, with more than $100,000 distributed so far, most to the American Heart Association.
The second vintage is now in the market; at 40,000 cases, Colby’s 2010 production is nearly double that of the first vintage. Both vintages have gone far beyond what either Groom envisioned at the outset.
“We made [about 50 cases] of wine,” says Daryl. “We hoped to sell it at auction. But word got around what Colby and I were up to, and the idea just took off.” Enter national drugstore chain Walgreens, which offered to distribute the wine , and Treasury Wine Estates, producer of Chateau St. Jean and Beringer, which lent its facilities in Sonoma County for the suddenly more ambitious launch.
“This is a great wine,” Groom says—and when Daryl Groom talks about great wine, everyone should listen. The native Australian has been making wine for more than 30 years; for five years, he was chief winemaker for Penfolds Grange, Australia’s most important wine. Groom came to the U.S. in 1990 to spearhead the turnaround of Sonoma County’s Geyser Peak Winery; his team made Geyser Peak one of the most award-winning U.S. wineries.
He now makes wine on his own label, Groom, from grapes grown in Australia’s Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills. Colby Red blends five varietals from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. “It’s the second-best selling wine at Walgreens, and now we’re selling it through other outlets,” he says. “It’s poured by the glass at Capitol Grill [in Washington, D.C.].”
The Colby Red story is best told by those who lived it; at ColbyRed.com, you can view a poignant seven-minute video and a clip from the “Today” show. The site offers sales of Colby Red; a meter tracks the flow of funds donated to charities that promote heart health.
“I’ve had a great time traveling around the country handing out checks,” Groom says. “What a feeling to be able to give away money, and to something so worthwhile.”