[I ventured to Napa Valley recently to visit relatives in town for a medical meeting soaked in Cabernet Sauvignon. The medicine-wine connection reminded me of this article about Ehlers Estate, an ultra premium vineyard specializing in Bordeaux varietals whose proceeds directly support open and collegial cardiovascular research. Wine is wonderfully philanthropic, don’t you think?]
To the tourist driving along Napa Valley’s Highway 29 who glimpses a stone building planted among the vines and towering olive trees, Ehlers Estate might seem like so many other beautiful properties along this stretch of road that runs the length of the valley. However, this St. Helena winery is decidedly unlike any of its neighbors. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of Ehlers Estate wines support the Leducq Foundation, a highly regarded international not-for-profit philanthropic trust dedicated to funding cardiovascular research by scientists from around the world who work together across international borders.
Promoting fundamental change through international research, the Leducq Foundation currently supports 23 multi-year research projects and has awarded over $170 million in grants to researchers from sixteen countries over the past ten years. Recipients of a grant from the Leducq Foundation must freely share the results of their research with others in the international community. Also, each project’s proposal and results are uploaded to a shared database of information accessible to everyone. The Leducq Foundation does not fund projects that don’t promise a long reach with the scientific results. Every project receiving grant funding from the Foundation must focus on basic research that will touch the lives of many individuals.
It was essential to Jean and Sylviane Leducq that any knowledge gained through the research they supported would be used to “bring relief to any and all who suffer from heart disease.” The legacy of Ehlers Estate and the Leducqu Foundation allowed Jean Leducq to integrate and sustain his love of wine together with his philanthropic impulse and a personal interest in heart disease research. A passion for Bordeaux wines and a love of America inspired Jean Leducq to found Ehlers Estate in the Napa Valley. When he passed away, he left this special property of winery and vineyards in trust to the Leducq Foundation, secure in the knowledge that the land would continue to bring forth great wines for generations to come to benefit those who suffer from cardiovascular and neurovascular disease.
Like many of their neighbors, Ehlers Estate produces Bordeaux varietals. They biodynamically manage 40 acres of vineyards at the narrow point in the northernmost part of Napa Valley where a steady breeze cools the grapes and makes the consistent production of fine wines from this estate a more likely guarantee (although nothing is guaranteed to those who work the earth). Produced from certified-organic, estate grown fruit, the wines of Ehlers Estate possess an authenticity and integrity all their own. How fortunate for wine lovers as well as the beneficiaries of the research projects funded by the Leducq Foundation that the stewards of this winery have engaged in such a serious commitment to this property.
Winemaker Kevin Morrisey feels Ehlers Estate is his “dream winery” to manage in terms of the lay of the land, the fruit quality, the vineyard’s location and size, the presence of the correct varietals, the international culture of the owners and the employees, and the rich history of this winery that reaches back to 1886. Returning the profits to the Leducq Foundation every year just completes the sweetness of the dream. Always, it comes back to the quality of the wine. The daily toil at this winery reflects a tradition of honoring the legacy of Jean Leducq as well as the terroir of the vineyard, all the while producing Ehlers-quality wine.
Leducq Foundation: www.fondationleducq.org