By Gina Trippi
Eric Story and Alison Smith dreamed of combining their 30 years of retail experience and wine knowledge to start their own winery. The two were accomplished and eager, but short on cash. “We didn’t have an inheritance,” Smith says. What they did have was an 80-pound Goldendoodle.
Pledging to put “farmers first,” Smith and Story turned to Kickstarter, the world’s largest online funding platform, to raise the required capital in 2014. It worked. Within 30 days, the two had collected $25,000 in donations. “We are the first winery we know of to be crowd funded!” Smith says.
What was interesting, aside from the generosity of the public, was that most of the supporters were followers of an Instagram account that Smith and Story had created for their Goldendoodle, Lord Sandwich. And most of them were asking when Lord Sandwich would have his own wine.
At first, Smith and Story were concerned about putting Lord Sandwich on the label. “No critter wines for us,” says Story. With 65,000 followers on Instagram, however, the two decided that a market of that size with such devotion could not be ignored.
The response was Lord Sandwich Red Table Wine, an extraordinary blend of zinfandel, syrah, pinot noir, carignane, grenache and petite sirah. The wine is a dark reddish-purple in the glass and presents aromas and flavors of blackberry, pepper and spices. Rich and complex, the wine is also smooth and very approachable for an everyday dinner or special occasion.
Smith Story Wines are made with respect for the land and, as promised, respect and support for the farmers. All of the vineyards where Smith and Story source the winery’s grapes are owned by small-scale, family farmers. The Smith Story winemaking philosophy is to utilize classic Old World techniques and to let the grapes and the sense of place where they are grown speak for themselves.
With a plan to share their good fortune with those in need, Smith started a nonprofit, Socks for Sandwich, in November of 2014, combining Lord Sandwich’s passion for socks with a charitable purpose. For every bottle of Lord Sandwich sold, a new pair of socks is given to someone in need. With the release of 601 cases of the first vintage of the wine that bears Lord Sandwich’s name, the charity gave out 7,212 pairs of socks.
Some of the recipients of new socks include organizations devoted to women and children recovering from domestic abuse, children in foster care, homeless individuals, victims of weatherrelated catastrophes in the U.S., farm workers, and county and city service organizations devoted to assisting those with challenges.
“He has a special way of making anyone smile and inspires hundreds each day with his playful spirit and giving heart,” says Smith of the nonprofit’s namesake.
Checks and donations of new socks can be sent to Socks for Sandwich at 1415 Fulton Road, #205-224, Santa Rosa, CA, 95403. Credit card donations can be made at socksforsandwich.org.
Follow the life, times and charitable work of Lord Sandwich on Instagram @sandwichthedoodle.
Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines at 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Committed to the community, Metro Wines offers big shop selection with small shop service. Gina can be reached at email@example.com or 828.575.9525.