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Annual ‘Vino for Vets’ fundraiser changes course for 2021 

A photo from a prior year’s Honor Flight trip.

–Honor Flight Central Coast is usually on the receiving end of donations, but this May, it’s turning the tables to help local wineries that have supported the organization that takes local military veterans on all-expense-paid trips to visit military memorials in Washington DC.

For the last several years, SLO County wineries have participated in “Vino for Vets,” a Memorial Weekend fundraiser that donates a portion of wine sales to Honor Flight. This year, Honor Flight leaders want to show their appreciation and support for partners hard hit by COVID-19 and other challenges and will forego the on-site fundraiser and instead conduct a Vino for Vets Wine Raffle. Honor Flight collected wine to be assembled into five “six-pack” collections and are raffling each for a $25 entry fee. Only 150 entries will be offered for a chance to win one of the six-packs.

According to Greg McGill, Honor Flight volunteer and Vino for Vets coordinator, the group planned the raffle as a way to continue to promote Honor Flight while relieving winery partners of the strain of donation. “We know 2020 was an extremely difficult year for our wineries, and things have not yet returned to normal,” said McGill, who also noted the challenges Honor Flight has managed with flights currently grounded due to the global pandemic, “but we are trying to focus on the positive, and the wine raffle is one way to do it.”

Since its founding in 2014, Honor Flight Central Coast California has taken several hundred local veterans (half of them WWII veterans) on all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C. for VIP tours of the memorials that were built in their honor. The all-volunteer organization, 100-percent dependent on donations to fund the trips, is hopeful flights will resume later this year.

McGill said the Vino for Vets fundraiser generates significant funds for the group as well as showcases who Honor Flight is and what it does. “Our winery partners have been so good to us, and this year, we want to help them.” He said that despite Honor Flight’s plan to purchase all wine, winery partners are donating, discounting, and offering fine wines to enhance the value of the raffle. McGill said Honor Flight will thank winery partners with Facebook posts and other promotions.

The Vino for Vets Wine raffle will run for the month of May, subject to the availability of the 150 entries. Participating wineries are listed below, and McGill adds that in addition to wine and logo glasses, each six-pack will contain a special gift: a bottle of the Honor Flight 2020 special red blend commemorative wine created by Pianetta Winery in Paso Robles. McGill says the wine, whose label honors a local WWII veteran, has not yet been released to the public. “Our raffle winners will get a special sneak taste of a great new wine,” said McGill. The five winners will be announced in a Facebook Live event on June 6, the 77th anniversary of the D Day invasion.

Entries may be purchased by check or credit card; purchase information and entry forms are on the Honor Flight website, www.honorflightccc.org/vinoforvets.

Participating wineries include:

  • Anglim Winery
  • AronHill Vineyards
  • Barr Estate Winery
  • Calcareous Vineyard
  • Croad Vineyards
  • Donati Family Vineyard
  • Donatoni Winery
  • Eberle Winery
  • Hearst Ranch Winery
  • Jack Creek Cellars
  • Oso Libre Winery
  • Peachy Canyon
  • Pianetta Winery
  • Robert Hall Winery
  • Tobin James Cellars
  • Tolo Cellars
  • Whalebone Winery

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.