NAPA, Calif. — World-famous winemaker Michel Rolland built his reputation by working wonders in the cellar. Now he’s doing miracles of a different sort by turning his South African wine into water for Ethiopians in desperate need.
A crisis of epic proportions is unfolding in Ethiopia, where every day millions struggle for their very lives due to drought and contaminated water. Recognizing this urgent need and the critical role that water plays in the production of fine wine, Michel Rolland has partnered with CNN Hero Doc Hendley, founder of Wine To Water, and Montesquieu Wines, a California winery and importer, on a special project – the Bonne Nouvelle, a wine from the land of Africa, for the people of Africa.
The 2003 Bonne Nouvelle, Michel’s signature Cabernet blend from Stellenbosch, is aptly named: it means “good news” in French. Proceeds will go directly to Wine To Water to dig deep bore wells in the Dale region of Southern Ethiopia, where 6 out of 10 people lack access to clean water, causing life-threatening diseases to run rampant. The project’s initial goal is to raise $40,000 – enough to fund four wells, providing permanent water access for over 8,000 people. The Bonne Nouvelle is available at www.winetowaterstore.com, where wine lovers can learn how they can save a life with each bottle they drink.
Montesquieu Wines’ founder Fonda Hopkins, who works separately with Michel Rolland and Doc Hendley on several other projects, brought them together to forge this partnership. “Michel and Doc come from completely different backgrounds,” observes Hopkins. “But both men are so passionate about life and committed to excellence that this project came together as a natural fit.” Montesquieu is facilitating the partnership by importing and distributing the wine at no charge.
Hendley, whose organization has provided water to approximately 100,000 people in twelve countries, says, “It’s wonderful to see some of the top players in the wine community step up to the plate to make such a difference.” In 2009, Hendley was named a CNN Top 10 Hero for his work. He is currently touring the nation discussing his new book Wine to Water: A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World, published by Penguin.