It’s always a pleasure to spend time in Napa. But when you’re there to finalize the details of a special project with two people as passionate and impressive as CNN Hero Doc Hendley, founder of Wine to Water, and renowned winemaker Michel Rolland, as we were recently, well it’s all that much more exciting. We are thrilled to announce our joint project—one that pulls together all of our resources and passions to provide permanent sources of clean water for Dale, a community in Ethiopia that is in desperate need (see the press release here).

6 out of every 10 people in Dale lack access to clean water, resulting in death due to waterborne diseases. Lack of clean water is actually the number one killer of children worldwide—more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. It is terribly tragic, but the good news is that there is something we can all do about it!

Michel Rolland and Doc Hendley in Napa

Doc Hendley realized this back in 2004, when he began using his job as a bartender to raise money to address the global water crisis. Although the problem is vast, each person can make a big difference because the per-person cost of accessing clean water is actually rather low. Before he knew it, Doc had raised a good amount of money by holding benefit wine tastings in the North Carolina area, and he found himself in war-torn Sudan, building wells and saving lives one person at a time. He realized that this was his life’s work, so he founded the Wine To Water organization, whose goal is to help the fortunate bring good news to the needy by providing for this basic need — clean water. The organization grew, and in 2009, Doc was named a CNN Top 10 Hero for his work.

We got to know Doc and the good folks at Wine To Water over a year ago, and we’ve been working with them since. But this new project with Michel Rolland is something we’re especially excited about. The beauty of this is that wine lovers all over the country have the opportunity to join us on our quest to save lives in Ethiopia, simply by enjoying a delicious wine by none other than Michel Rolland — only the most accomplished winemaker in the world! The wine is the 2003 Bonne Nouvelle, Michel Rolland’s signature Cabernet blend from a stunning mountainside vineyard in the famed Stellenbosch region. For a detailed description of the Bonne Nouvelle see here.

Wine to Water Projects Manager Kyle Lomax celebrating a new well in Ethiopia

For every bottle sold, $20 will be sent directly to Wine To Water to build deep bore wells in Dale. Our initial goal is to raise $40,000 to fund four wells in Dale, providing clean water for 8,000 people. Bonne Nouvelle means “good news” in French, and with each bottle enjoyed, a life will be saved. We can’t think of any better news than that! You can join us in this adventure by purchasing the Bonne Nouvelle at our Wine To Water Store (

Our meetings with Doc and Michel in Napa, finalizing details and preparing for the project launch, reminded us of what an honor it is to be able to work with these two men on a project like this. These guys are charismatic, committed to excellence, and at the top of their respective industries.

After enjoying a lunch with Doc and his colleague Jessup Marion at a local favorite, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in Saint Helena, we hosted them for a tasting at our production facility high up on Howell Mountain. We never tire of the beautiful wooded scenery surrounding the state of the art winery and cellar! The design is really marvelous, completely gravity-fed and all underground which keeps everything the perfect cool temperature for production and aging year-round. Doc and Jessup were able to taste the 2007 Derenoncourt California Cab Franc, as well as the 2010 Cabernet Franc from barrel (both of which are evolving beautifully!).

Jessup, Doc and Fonda tasting the ’07 Derenoncourt California Collection

Later in the evening we all gathered in Calistoga with Michel Rolland for an intimate dinner, where we shared some of our favorite wines including the Montesquieu Grand Cru Champagne, the 2003 Bonne Nouvelle, Michel’s 2009 Mariflor Sauvignon Blanc, the Juntarse we partnered with Michel on, as well as several of Michel’s more iconic Napa wines (’99 Bond Vecina, ’99 Araujo Cabernet, ’06 Ovid). Of course the wine was second-to-none, but most importantly, we were able to spend the evening sharing our common vision for the future — bringing clean water to as many people in Ethiopia as possible.

Jessup, Fonda, Michel, Doc, and Helene enjoy a fine meal and wines together

Such a privilege and honor to share such fine company, and embark on the next level of a partnership that has grown out of mutual passion for excellence. Those of you that have experienced some of Michel’s wines like our Juntarse and the Mariflor know the magical experience we are talking about! The Bonne Nouvelle is a reflection of this passion–a wine from Africa for the people of Africa. We hope you join us in this adventure as our relationships with Doc and Michel evolve further. We raise a glass to good news for Ethiopia, cheers!

Visit us on Facebook to see more photos of Doc and Michel. But most of all, help us make a difference in Ethiopia by drinking a bottle and saving a life!

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