This story was originally published in Edible Manhattan.
Last year Berlin Kelly debuted a new wine brand Proud Pour with a sauvignon blanc, the Oyster, from California’s North Coast. The project combined two of her interests: wine, of course, and a focused environmentalism. For each bottle sold, Proud Pour donated enough to pay for 100 new oysters to help restore reefs up and down the East Coast drawing from $250,000 worth of sales.
This year, Kelly is land bound. Her new wine, a 2015 pinot noir from the Umpqua Valley in southern Oregon, is dedicated to helping bees. As pollinators, they’re essential to farmers growing tree fruits, nuts and all produce. For each bottle sold, Proud Pour will plant 875 wildflowers,which equals 90-square-feet of pollinator habitat. Kelly is working through the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international nonprofit founded in 1971. The society focuses on increasing pollinator habitat on privately owned farms.
“The work is regional,” says Kelly. “We’ll always have one or more farm projects in the mid-Atlantic (including New York), New England and the Pacific Northwest.” She adds, “The project is different from the oysters, which can require multiple restorations for decades.” In New York Kelly works with the Billion Oyster Project and the Moriches Bay Project.
The concept seems to be working because Kelly intends to expand the product line with beer, cider, mead, whiskey, etc. Each new item will be dedicated to another environmental project. Wolves, say, would benefit from Proud Pour Whiskey and Proud Pour Cider sales would be plowed into soil health. Or Proud Pour Tequila would support bats. “The pollinate the agave,” says Kelly.
The success of the wine, Kelly adds, has to do with how it tastes. It’s a light pure pinot, which would serve as well as a cocktail and as an accompaniment to pork or heavier fish. “People like it,” she says. “But they keep coming back because they like the mission.” Proud Pour’s mission, she says, was inspired by TOMS shoes. “But we wanted the benefits to be really local.”
In the meantime Kelly is spending her time presenting the wine at retail stores, visiting an oyster shell recycling project in Nantucket and then back to California to live in a yurt and work in a biodynamic vineyard.
Looking to buy the new wine? Proud Pour’s website has a map, which shows a cluster of stores and restaurants in New York City that see the pinot; the suggested retail price is $24. The sauvignon blanc is on the shelf for $19.