Though I have strayed a time or two, the goal of my blog is to eat, drink and shop my way through Napa Valley and share those experiences with you. But when I learned about winemaker Deborah Hall and Ground Boots wines, I knew her story needed to be shared. Deborah’s winery Gypsy Canyon Winery is located in Central California’s Santa Barbara County and I became aware of Deborah because of the amazing powers of social media. And very loosely paraphrasing a philosophy by Mercedes Ruehl’s character Anne in the early ‘90s movie The Fisher King (one of the best movies EVER!), I fully believe that positive energy finds positive energy no matter how far apart it may be!
In her own words, Deborah is a winemaker, designer, tree hugger and Mom living on the vineyard. She is also the founder and principle of Gypsy Canyon Winery – a tiny historic vineyard and boutique winery that focuses on estate grown Pinot Noir and Mission grapes. Deborah studied viticulture and enology at U.C. Davis and has become a recognized expert in the field of grape growing, winemaking and package design. In 1999, she began her passion for growing grapes and making wines while tending the vines in the healthy and vibrant soils of Santa Barbara County.
Though she was doing what she loved, running a successful business and embracing her life in the country, Deborah felt a little empty. I know this is something I relate to and understand. Sometimes in the midst of what many people call “success”, there is a feeling that time is slipping past and maybe a little more can be done. In fact, I gave up my career in real estate three years ago so that I could explore that same nagging hunger that Deborah was feeling. Now I get to write about my passion for being vegan, volunteer for several animal welfare organizations in Napa Valley, I get to be a full time Mom to my 3 dogs and cat and a full time support system to my husband Steve! What I have sacrificed (and I do use that word very lightly) in material objects has more than been made up for with joy and fulfillment. And I have truly never been happier! About a year ago, Deborah also began reflecting on her life and thinking…”what next?” She remembered her love for animals and our environment. As a child, she had dreamed of becoming a veterinarian but as so often happens her life took her a different direction. It was then, she began to contemplate and consider what she could do now to make a difference.
Back to the wonders of social media…while Deborah was on Facebook she came across Soi Dog Foundation. Soi Dog Foundation is a not-for-profit, charitable organization based and registered in Thailand and registered in the U.S., Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Holland. The mission statement of Soi Dog is to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Thailand which in turn improves the lives of both the animal and human communities. To end animal cruelty and to ultimately create a society without homeless animals. In addition to helping the homeless, neglected and abused cats and dogs of Thailand and responding to animal welfare disasters and emergencies, Soi Dog works tirelessly throughout the Region to end the ghastly dog meat trade. And in the midst of all of this hard work, they have also spayed and neutered over 77,000 cats and dogs across the Region!
What caught Deborah’s eye about this non-profit, is the fact that they show the successes created by their hard work and compassion for all living things. She was literally able to see the before and after of a rescue! This gave her a huge dose of inspiration and after a couple days of brain storming she had her “ah ha” moment! Using her years of experience and vast resources in the wine industry, she decided to bottle some wine, sell it and donate the proceeds to Soi Dog. Being driven by purpose, her ideas continued to flow until she had created a whole new brand for Soi Dog and Ground Boots was born! Ground Boots is the very first wine dedicating 100% of the profits to make our world a better and more loving place.
Deborah teamed up with famed artist Donald Roller Wilson to design a label for Ground Boots. He then generously donated one of the images for the label. And using her vast resources in the business, she sourced some top quality wine that is often declassified and sold off as bulk. This is often done merely because the wine does not “fit the program” or the marketing plan. She chose the finest barrels to bottle and it became Ground Boots. She has now also created a new title for Ground Boots which is Charitable Negociant.
Now that she is experiencing the magic that being driven by purpose creates, she has decided to dream really big. This is not a one-time charitable donation for Deborah and Ground Boots. Her goal is to work hard and to grow her love for animals into the “Tom’s” of the wine world! In fact, Deborah has taken her altruism even a step further. She flew to Thailand to personally vet Soi Dog Foundation. Over the course of two weeks, she journeyed into small villages and assisted in the set-up of mobile spay and neuter clinics. This allowed the local “dog catchers” to visit the local temples and to bring stray and injured dogs and cats in for treatment. She also went through the heartbreak of visiting Wat Saun Kaew in Bangkok. This shelter is known as the worst dog shelter in the world. Deborah met and spent time with the founders of Soi Dog – John and Gill Dalley. They poured over maps of the northeastern districts of Thailand and educated her on the vicious underbelly of the dog meat industry. Seeing what an incredible group this was and what radical changes they were making, she made Soi Dog Foundation her first non-profit partner!
But it gets even better! Deborah will be returning to Thailand this summer with a journalist and videographer. She will not only be presenting Soi Dog with the funds she raised but she will head back into the trenches and will be working hand and hand with Soi Dog. She will once again return to the Wat Saun Kaew shelter in Bangkok. She will also journey to the Buriram District of Thailand to spend time with the rescued dogs and she will be a part of the undercover investigations of the northeastern Thailand dog meat trade. Her mission is to share all of this live via social media and Livestream! What an amazing woman helping others do amazing good!
Now onto the important stuff…the wine! The first bottling was a 2012 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, using earth friendly bottles. 100 cases were bottled and are available for just $70.00 a bottle. Click this link now to reserve your wine today! This will be the most loving and fulfilling wine, you have ever purchased!
Thank you for letting me share this amazing story and Deborah’s beautiful journey to help the voiceless dogs and cats of Thailand. And as always…eat, drink and be vegan!
****To all of my vegan friends, I have not confirmed that the wine is considered vegan-friendly.