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Geddy Lee wants your wine! A heart-felt plea from a Canadian rocker

By Rick VanSickle

“After years of enjoying their service, it’s our turn to serve them, the chefs, sommeliers, wait staff, delivery personnel, farmers, fisherman, bakers and more whose livelihoods have evaporated virtually overnight.”

That’s a heart-felt plea from Rush frontman Geddy Lee for wine collectors to dig deep into their cellars for donations that will go toward this fall’s Grapes For Humanity’s Fine Wine Auction in support of the “Save Hospitality Fundraiser.”

For 26 years, Grapes For Humanity has been involved in fundraising for international projects that benefit Children and Youth. With the support of donors and the generosity of the hospitality industry, the organization has managed to help some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry desperately needs your help.

Canada wine

In partnership with Waddington’s, Lifford Wine Agency, Irongate Wines, Vinifera, the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, Fine Wine Conservatory, Toronto Hospitality Workers’ Relief Fund and Save Hospitality, Grapes For Humanity believes they can directly help individuals by donating 95 cents of every dollar raised from the online charity auction from Sept. 28 to Oct. 7 through Waddington’s Auctioneers & Appraiser.

But to be successful, Grapes For Humanity is appealing to wine lovers for donations that will fuel the auction. Deadline for donations is coming up quickly on Aug. 15.

Geddy Lee is a Grapes For Humanity board member. This is his appeal for help.

“The restaurant industry has been devastated by the outbreak of COVID-19. Among those impacted are people who are already among the most vulnerable in the work force: young Canadians whose first job is in a kitchen or new Canadians who bus tables while they learn the language, or multi-generational restaurateurs who have invested their entire future and their children’s by growing culinary institutions that make dining in our city (Toronto) the envy of major cities all over the world.

“After years of enjoying their service, it’s our turn to serve them, the chefs, sommeliers, wait staff, delivery personnel, farmers, fishermen, bakers and more whose livelihood has evaporated virtually overnight.

“They’re not doctors or ICU nurses, epidemiologists or vaccine manufacturers. But they are essential to us and have shared some of our life’s most intimate or profound moments (that big deal you landed! the night you got engaged!) or our tough ones (goodbye dinners for kids heading off to college). I’m talking about people we know whose livelihood is the hospitality business. They make sure we have what we need, open early or stay late, find whatever we have to have that isn’t actually on the menu. Nothing is ever too much trouble. Now is the time to remember their generosity because they need our help.

“In an effort to help these individuals who now find themselves in dire straights, Waddington’s, in conjunction with Grapes for Humanity Canada, will be hosting a Fine Wine Auction, the proceeds of which will benefit the Ontario hospitality industry and its struggling work force.

“And so I am reaching out to you, my fellow wine lovers, to ask you to donate something great from your cellars. Something that will help us raise some badly needed funds to help keep our friends in the hospitality world afloat and better able to survive this economic tsunami.

“We will come out of this … but right now we must throw a lifeline to those who need us. Let’s do this by sharing our good fortune and raiding our wine cellars so the staff and independent restaurants can weather this storm.

“Direct Benefactors include Toronto Restaurant Worker’s Relief Fund and Save Hospitality.”

Thank you so much,
Geddy Lee

The Grapes For Humanity network reached out to the Toronto Restaurant Workers Relief Fund, which, to date, has helped hundreds of front line employees with food gift cards. Through an application and vetting process, recipients will be issued food gift cards through local Ontario Growers including Food Share and Green Circle Food Hub. They are also working with SaveHospitalityCA, headed up by The Ascari Group. Save Hospitality represents almost 40,000 business owners in the hospitality sector across Canada in their fight to survive this pandemic. Their members range from the smallest mom and pop enterprises to larger chains. Most importantly, they represent all regions of Ontario and can provide gift certificates from a broad range of operators. The funds raised from the sale of these gift certificates will destined to assist restaurateurs with the extra expense of making their premises safe for their employees and guests.

Donation from Wines In Niagara

Photo by Elena Galey-Pride

Anticipation is high that the bottles of wine donated to this crucial and important auction will attract generous bids. Here’s just one item that might catch your eye during the auction.

Wines In Niagara is donating a full set of five 2014 Lowrey Vineyard Pinot Noirs from all the producers lucky enough to get this coveted and historic fruit from the Lowrey family on Niagara’s St. David’s Bench. Collectively, these wines were named the most thrilling red wines in Niagara in 2017 by Wines In Niagara (read the story and reviews for each wine here and should be nearing their prime. They represent some of the best Pinots made in the region in any given year made by many of the region’s top winemakers, including Thomas Bachelder, Ilya Senchuk, Shauna White, Wes Lowrey and Richie Roberts. Bid high, and they can be yours!

If you are interested in donating wine for the auction, please fill out Donor Form A here & Donor Form B here.


Ontario’s Premier
Fine Wine Auction:
Save Hospitality Fundraiser
• Monday, Sept. 28 through Wednesday, Oct 7, online through Waddington’s Auctioneers & Appraiser
• For more information, go to Grapes for Humanity here.