Trail Blazers' McCollum fosters inclusive Oregon wine scene
A handful of Oregon wineries have unveiled a collaboration they hope fosters tangible change in the state's wine industry, moving toward a future focused on inclusivity.
Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, retired former Trail Blazer Channing Frye, and the foundation named for the late Blazers legend Maurice Lucas are among the collaborators in the "One Barrel Challenge."
The challenge brings together seven Willamette Valley wineries in an effort to make the industry "more accessible and inclusive, regardless of color, class or creed," according to a press release. Each participant in the effort — including Adelsheim Vineyard and L'Angolo Estate, among others — donated the equivalent of one barrel of wine, or 300 bottles, to the challenge.
All proceeds from the sale of the bottles will go to the Maurice Lucas Foundation, which focuses on providing educational opportunities to marginalized communities.
"Together, the Maurice Lucas Foundation and One Barrel Challenge seek to create greater access to educational opportunities for young people throughout Oregon," David Lucas, Maurice's son and one of the foundation's leaders, said in the release. "With one of the world's most celebrated wine regions, the Willamette Valley, right in their backyard, many of these young people may have never previously considered a career in the wine industry."
This is the first iteration of the One Barrel Challenge, but the group expects to expand the effort in the coming years and create "hands-on educational opportunities" along with scholarships and other ventures. One of the primary goals is promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in a wine industry that historically lacks all three.
"Like much of the country, there are extreme racial disparities in the wine industry," Frye, who started the Chosen Family Wines label in a partnership with L'Angolo Estate, said in the release. "As we together commemorate Oregon Wine Month this May, my partners in the One Barrel Challenge and I seek to leverage this moment — and this movement — to incite change and increase diversity amongst those seeking careers in our beloved craft, and our commonality in giving back is wine."
Wines in the challenge are available for purchase on the individual wineries' websites. The participating wineries include Granville Wine Co., McCollum Heritage 91, Hazelfern, Division Winemaking Company, Adelsheim, L'Angolo Estate and Chosen Family Wines. Prices for the wines range from $35 for Granville's Rosé to $55 for some of the signature pinot noirs.
McCollum made history debuting his wine label in 2020, and the wine included in the challenge is a new chardonnay that marks his third wine under the label. He'd previously debuted a pinot noir and rosé, both of which sold out online within hours of their release.
"Since announcing my own label a year ago, I've learned more and more about the lack of representation in the wine industry," McCollum said. "In launching the One Barrel Challenge, I look forward to actively increasing awareness and witnessing the change we can create through this program, ensuring wine is more approachable for everyone, particularly those who may not see people who look like them leading the profession."
For more information on the One Barrel Challenge, visit www.onebarrelchallenge.com.
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