Someone taking a sip of Sunrise Sauvignon Blanc on a warm summer day is helping to raise awareness of autism.
It's the same situation with the couple who order a bottle of Sassy Syrah while eating at Sorrel Bistro or The Mill Restaurant, two local favorite eateries. Both of those wines are made by Speranza Winery, a boutique label that sets aside 25 percent of the proceeds from every bottle it sells to fund autism programs. The winery, named for the Italian word for "hope," was started in 2012 by Mark and Kathy Anselmo, founders of the Our Nicholas Foundation, and their friends, Shawn and Tiffany Halverson. Since its uncorking, Speranza has bottled more than 400 cases of wine ---- produced locally by area vintners.
The foundation is named for the Anselmos' son Nicholas, who is on the autism spectrum. Autism is generally described as a developmental disorder that affects children in different ways. For years, the Anselmos have raised money for the foundation to help increase awareness; provide resources to families of children with autism and special-needs teachers; and start programs such as Kick with Nick, a popular soccer group that allows children on the autism spectrum to play alongside teenage volunteers. When they teamed up with the Halversons on a wine label, the partners decided early on to use the winery as another fundraising tool. "Our motto is 'Pouring hope, one glass at a time,'" Mark Anselmo said during an interview last week at Temecula Valley Winery Management with the other partners. Without land in Wine Country to call their own, the partners worked with existing wineries to put together the roster of wines that feature the Speranza label. In addition to the syrah and the sauvignon blanc, the winery also offers Chardonnyay!, a chardonnay with subtle hints of pear and kiwi, and Zippy Zin, a zinfandel with peppery notes. "We decided to go with fun names," Kathy Anselmo said. That decision has worked out well, she said, because many people who have bought one of their wines said they did so in part because they liked the sound of it.
After launching late last year, the partners have worked to get Speranza wines at Sorrel Bistro and The Mill restaurant in Murrieta, as well as Crush and Brew in Old Town Temecula. They also are considering partnerships with San Diego restaurants and other spots in Riverside and Orange counties. Although that might be considered impressive growth for many small wineries, the partners said their goal is to use the winery as a vehicle for fundraising. Speranza has recently partnered with Surfers Healing for their newest wine club. Surfers Healing is an internationally recognized organization dedicated to geting autistic individuals up on surf boards on beaches from Costa Rica to San Clemente. Their first label is the "Wipeout White".