The grandchildren of the famous Julio Gallo grew up working in vineyards for much of their youth, picking grapes during harvest every year and living immersed in wine culture.
Now Ashley and Austin Coleman have launched Greater Purpose Wines (in November 2010), whose mission is to not only create delicious, approachable wine, but just as importantly, to make a difference in the world around them.
Greater Purpose’s greater purpose is to help orphaned children and people living in extreme poverty but that’s far from all the company does. Ashley Coleman talks to RMGT and tells us more about her mission and her goals.
Why did you launch Greater Purpose Wines?
We’re trying to fulfill our passion of helping people and making a difference in the world around us while making wine at the same time.
Our mission is to make great wines for a great cause and we donate 55 percent of our profits to charity. We help orphaned children and people living in extreme poverty, providing food, water, shelter, clothing, and education. We went to Haiti last year, after the earthquake, with the Global Orphan project. It was a really powerful experience to be able to be there and be there for the kids.
Orphaned children are a cause that really spoke to me and I have a soft spot for kids. There are more than 150 million orphaned and abandoned kids in the world and five million kids die every year because they don’t have access to basic needs like water.
But I’d like to help other charities, too. If any nonprofit wants to approach us I’ll do anything I can to help.
The great thing about what we’re doing is that we’re simultaneously increasing the knowledge about extreme poverty, the children, etc.
What’s your next project?
Our next project is with the Plant a Seed Foundation, which helps people create sustainable solutions. With them we’re working on creating a sustainable chicken farm in Uganda. We’re building it over three weeks in July and it will help 1,500 orphaned and abandoned children.
It will provide nutritious foods for the kids but also help people in surrounding villages and that will bring money to help with education. This whole project is going to serve basic needs for survival as well as education.
We hope to create revenue for sustainable causes on a regular basis. I’d like to be able to give millions of dollars a year to sustainable causes.
How and why did you choose the wines you have?
Our two reds are from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, California, and our whites are from Monterey, California.
Because we’re a virtual winery we purchase finished wine then we craft the blend. So we’re very instrumental in how we want the wine to be and we taste hundreds of wines, but this allows us to have reduced costs. We don’t own the vineyards or expensive production equipment. We do the blending so we put the stamp and our artistic expression on the wine. It’s a very quick process. Our costs are lower than a traditional winery, and in this way we can give so much of the profit back.
For us to be truly sustainable it was important for us to make truly great wine because people can only drink bad wine once. So when we were looking for the wines we went to premium wine regions. We made wines that are very drinkable and good quality.
Which wines do you sell?
We have a Cabernet-Zinfandel blend called Smooth that is a lighter style and a Cabernet-Zinfandel-Syrah called Bold, which is fuller bodied, more of a food wine, with more structure to it. Our white, simply called White, is a crisp, slightly sweet wine made from Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
We wanted to make styles of wine rather than focusing on varietals because we wanted to make wine more approachable and because people get very intimidated by wine. We think we can make great quality blends because we take the best of what there is. And, by naming them Smooth, Bold and White, people can connect with them.
You are from the famous Gallo family but the name doesn’t appear on the bottle.
No. When we came out we wanted to stand alone and not depend on it. We don’t like the stereotypes so it’s nice to come out fresh sometimes and start from a fresh perspective, but it’s not a bad thing when people know and ask. And a lot of people do respect our family’s heritage and I am proud of our family.
Do you think people are buying your wines because of the greater purpose or because they like the wines?
I think both. People want to drink a great wine and they definitely like our wine quality but knowing that it goes back to charity gets them more excited about it. There’s an emotional connection there too.