WINE to WATER a new miracle to save Africa: Michel Rolland and Dany Rolland and Montesquieu Winery Join Forces to Turn Wine to Water

Confronted with a water crisis in drought-stricken Ethiopia, renowned winemakers are responding with a miracle of their own making: 

turning wine to water.

Montesquieu Winery has partnered with Doc Hendley, founder of Wine to Water, and winemakers Bob Levy and Martha McClellan to turn several hundred magnums of Napa Valley Meritage into clean water for over 12,000 people in Ethiopia’s Dale region. And now, Montesquieu and Hendley have launched a project with famous enologist Michel Rolland that allows wine lovers to help tens of thousands more, simply by enjoying great wine.

Inspired by the cause and eager to procure this collectible wine, enthusiasts snatched up the 2008 Wine to Water magnums in only three days, raising $122,000 to dig ten wells in Ethiopia. Crafted by two of Napa’s most revered winemakers, Bob Levy (of Harlan Estate and BOND) and Martha McClellan (of Sloan and Checkerboard), an unprecedented $500 from each of these hand-signed etched magnums went directly to Wine to Water.

Wine To Water

The founder of the non profit organization Wine to Water gives a highly personal account of how he came to that mission and of the work that it is doing today.

The organization, which raises awareness of the need for clean water around the world and helps to provide that water to people in need, began as an idea in the head of a young man with a talent for connecting with people and a growing awareness of the world’s water problems. A biker, bartender and amateur musician with no apparent goal in life, Hendley organized a wine tasting as a fundraiser for clean-water projects and shortly thereafter found himself in contact with Samaritan’s Purse, an international charitable organization. That meeting led to a job in Darfur, where he built up a team that delivered water and repaired wells in villages devastated by the genocidal attacks. The author’s down-to-earth accounts of his time there in 2004 and 2005 are interspersed with on-the-spot e-mail updates to friends, family and supervisors. His frustrations and the psychological impact of his observations and harrowing experiences are clear. On his return to the United States, Hendley married and took a mundane office job but never stopped trying to get Wine to Water up and running. With a colleague from his Darfur year, he succeeded, and through their grassroots network they began to spread their wings, undertaking water projects around the world. Although he describes several projects in India and Africa, he gives greatest attention to his work in post-earthquake Haiti, where he put to good use his knowledge of how to cut through red tape and get things done.

Hendley’s well-told story—at times a bit aw-shucks, down-homey in tone—demonstrates how one person can impact the lives of many. Though not written specifically for teenage boys, it would make a great gift for a too-cool-for-school kid.

With millions still on the edge of survival, Montesquieu is redoubling its efforts by joining with the world’s most celebrated winemaker, Michel Rolland, to launch the 2003 Bonne Nouvelle. Priced at $39, with $20 per bottle funding wells in Ethiopia, this Bordeaux-style blend from Rolland’s prized South Africa vineyards offers wine lovers the opportunity to easily make a difference: each bottle purchased at furnishes clean water to an entire family. “I know Africa well, and Ethiopia is a place that is in great need,” said Rolland. “I am very happy to help Doc give water to Africa.”

Last week, over 100 wine professionals and consumers joined Montesquieu’s President Fonda Hopkins, Hendley, Rolland, Levy and McClellan to celebrate the success of the magnums and launch the Bonne Nouvelle. “The wine world has such a generous spirit,” said Hopkins, “and through Doc we have an easy way to give back.”

Speaking to the crowd, Hendley expressed gratitude for the generosity embodied by this project. “We hear a lot of bad things in the news, but we forget sometimes that we do pull together as people to help each other out,” said Hendley. “The Bonne Nouvelle is a great opportunity to do just that.”

At Montesquieu, we bring you the finest hand-crafted wines from the best boutique vineyards in the world. We believe that winemaking is an art. Through every wine we source for our clients, we celebrate the diversity, character and tradition encompassed within each bottle – the true spirit of wine.

Isabelle Forêt

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