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Food & Wine: Benevolence in a Bottle

by Carolyn Jung

OneHope’s cofounders (left to right) Jake Kloberdanz, Kristen Shroyer, Tiffany Wojtkiewicz, Brandon Hall, Tom Leahy and Sarah McPeake, in the back of Kloberdanz’s pickup truck that was used to peddle wine in the company’s early days. | Photo courtesy of OneHope Wine.

A Napa Valley winery pours money into good causes.

Many wines deliver on taste, aroma, pure pleasure and even prestige. But few — if any — dispense profound good will with each and every bottle.

That’s precisely the premise behind Rutherford’s OneHope, a mission-driven wine producer that earmarks 10 percent of proceeds from the sale of every bottle to charitable causes.

Since its founding in 2007, OneHope has raised more than $8.1 million for 30,000 nonprofits that serve local communities and 10 nonprofits with a global reach, chosen by its foundation as well as by its devotees. It is thought to be the only winery in the country with a giving platform that’s able to support any nonprofit, says cofounder Kristen Shroyer, who serves as executive vice president of marketing and the foundation.

Shroyer started OneHope along with seven others, five of whom are also still with the company: CEO Jake Kloberdanz, President Tiffany Wojtkiewicz, Chief Compliance Officer Tom Leahy, Executive Vice President of Sales Sarah McPeake and Chief Brand Officer Brandon Hall. Fresh out of college, they were all working at Gallo Wine Company, the Southern California distributor for E. & J. Gallo wines, when they first noticed that myriad product labels and displays awash in pink pop up at the start of October, only to disappear completely at the end of that designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

OneHope produces 100,000 cases annually, sourcing grapes from all over the world. | Photo courtesy of OneHope Wine.

“Jake wondered why there wasn’t something more to give back,” Shroyer recalls. “He thought, ‘Why not have a cause built into the DNA of a product?’”

That idea was solidified even more when Kloberdanz learned that a childhood friend had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So he hit up friends and family for loans to make OneHope a reality. After making their first 168 cases at a Napa Valley custom-crush facility, they sold the wine to stores and restaurants from the back of their cars. That includes Kloberdanz’s white pickup truck, now parked ceremoniously in front of OneHope’s new Howard Backen– designed, agrarian-chic winery that opened last year — a reminder of just how far they’ve come.

Today, OneHope produces 100,000 cases annually of more than 80 different wines from grapes sourced throughout California and the world, including its own 10-acre Rutherford estate.

Mari Wells Coyle, former winemaker at David Girard Vineyards in Placerville and Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga, is the head winemaker, succeeding Robert Mondavi Jr., grandson of the legendary Napa Valley vintner.

The wines help support clean water, hunger relief, health research and educational endeavors, causes designated by OneHope’s foundation. OneHope also allows consumers to earn commissions by hosting tasting parties at home, in which 10 percent of event purchases is also donated to the host’s nonprofit of choice. Akin to Avon reps but for wine, more than 10,000 people nationwide have held such events, the majority of them women.

In 2021, OneHope debuted its Howard Backen–designed winery in Napa Valley. The facility’s Oak Room, which is lined with more than 100 barrels, hosts events and select tastings. | Photo courtesy of OneHope Wine.

OneHope’s largest beneficiary has been WhyHunger, a New York–based anti-hunger and anti-poverty nonprofit that has received more than $550,000 over the past seven years. At the start of the pandemic, when schools and day cares closed across the country, more than 17 million children experienced hunger, says WhyHunger Executive Director Noreen Springstead. The winery’s contributions helped WhyHunger expand its hotline and other services so that more than 1 million people in 2020 could access nutritious food.

“It’s always great to see brands finding ways to contribute to charitable causes,” Springstead says. “But when a company like OneHope makes those contributions part of their corporate structure, commits over the long term, and invests in an organization like WhyHunger that is addressing root causes and systemic change — that’s incredibly powerful.”

Wine couldn’t be a more ideal catalyst for inspiring people to action, too, Shroyer says, because it brings together friends and strangers alike for conversation and reflection.

“When people uncork our bottle, I want them to see it’s more than just wine,” she says. “I want them to see that it’s a community on a mission to do good and to change the world.”

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