Last week my husband Allan and I spent a few days in the Napa wine country. Coincidentally, the day we arrived I read an article that someone posted on Facebook titled "Wineries Put Their Support of Gay Marriage Right on Bottle."
Of course, I was intrigued. I'd been to the Napa area eight years ago, and it never occurred to me that the concept of marriage equality could be worked into wine. So I thought it might be fun to see if we could visit one of these wineries.
I decided to contact the owners of Stand Tall Wine Company. I sent an e-mail to Dana Sabin, one of the owners, and the following morning I received a lovely reply from her. She and her partner Larisa Stephenson invited Allan and me to meet them at an address off of St. Helena Highway, which is the home to dozensof wineries.
After visiting about six wineries that day, we located the address we had been given, which is the home and winery of Dana's parents. Dana and Larisa are two young women in their early 30's who founded Stand Tall Wine Company in 2012. The wine they produce is called "Genetic" - a Pinot Noir made from grapes shipped from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. They grow these grapes on a small parcel of land which they share with Dana's parents.
Dana and Larisa gave Allan and me samples of their wine to taste. Neither of us are big red wine drinkers, but we both enjoyed Genetic. It's not too dry (and not too sweet) and is a wine that we definitely would purchase. They also showed us the vats that the wine is stored in, and the wine press they use.
What impressed me the most, though, was the fact that Dana and Larisa give back to the LGBTQ community. They chose the name "Stand Tall Wine Company" because they both stand tall" for the issues they care about. Dana told me that they donate a percentage of the sale of Genetic to the Napa LBGTQ Project. The project serves the 11,000 LGBTQ people who live in Napa County. And they always make sure that when they purchase products, their money goes towards companies that support LGBTQ equality.
Meeting Dana and Larisa was a special part of our trip. Because their winery is just starting out, they work full-time jobs in the Napa area - Dana is a Social Worker and Larisa is a kinesiologist. They also mentioned that they will be getting married next year. Now that the Supreme Court has struck down DOMA and Prop 8, these two women will be able to have the wedding of their dreams!
Dana and Larisa are a perfect example of small business owners who are passionate about their new company and passionate about equality - and finding a way to tie those passions together. For those of you who want to learn more about Dana, Larisa, and the Stand Tall Wine Company, go to www.standtallwine.com.