Support Starts in Your Community

I’ve written extensively on this blog already about ways that we can help those whom are deaf into careers which can coexist with their disability.

Winemaking is generally one of those and given some of the success deaf winemakers have had over the years, both in growing and creating wine labels and then even packaging their wines as part of wine gift baskets for sale at large retailers like Costco and Target among many others.

In any case, getting deaf people to consider wine as a career, is a difficult task.  I think a lot of that comes from the fact that most people think about wine as a people centered business, focused on high volume tasting rooms which are both loud and contain a ton of background noise.  Anyone who has ever known someone who is deaf can tell you, neither of those situations is ideal for someone who is deaf.

Of course, making wine is an entirely different thing completely.  Most blending sessions happen in a room the size of your average office with only a small handfull of people who work together on a daily basis.  For someone who is deaf, that sounds like an ideal situation doesn’t it?  Plus, no other industry has the same type of understanding of different cultures as does wine, where talent freely flows from one country to another on a yearly basis and a deaf person’s ability to focus more exclusively on taste, would be a huge positive!

A Community in Wine Country

a home in napa valleyWhen we initially start talking about the deaf and ways for them to find peace and happyness, (yes that’s misspelled on purpose) the first thing most people tell us is that they need a sense of community where people not only understand what they are going through, but also where a higher than normal percentage of residents are deaf.  Most people feel that the higher percentage is the only way to make sure their thoughts and feelings are understood.

 Talking to our wine of the month club, we wondered, are communities in wine country doing anything to help these usually underserved groups? I mean, the type of community that most of these folks want to build is largely in sync with wine country-so why not take advantage?

Support Through Economics in Wine

The wine industry supports a range of charities based on wineries giving a percentage of their earnings back.  Most of those charities are either environmental, or based in the local region where the wineries are growing their grapes.  Clearly that makes a ton of sense, but I’d love to see more wineries supporting deaf causes.  Think about it, if you’re selling wine or even wine gift baskets there is plenty of room to create value by not only having deaf members of the staff (especially if they can read lips and help with general winemaking duties such as blending and picking) but overall, don’t most high end consumers want their money to go somewhere useful?

At the end of the day, what could be better than helping people?

Learning About Deaf Communities Through Wine

I’m a member of what I consider to be the best wine club around and they recently featured a wine by a deaf winemaker.  At first, I thought it was pretty cool on a number of levels, but then I thought-why is this so special?  Why take the time to mention that the winemaker is deaf?  Does that really have any affect, any affect at all on his ability to create a memorable wine?

Personally speaking, I don’t think so.  I honestly believe that deafness isn’t a handicap within the wine industry, especially for a winemaker whose job depends on things like chemistry and taste moreso than the ability to hear.

Oh well, eventually we’ll recognize disabilities for what they are and not prescibe undo influence to them.

Support, Charity and Wine

I think any of us that have kids, or frankly have ever been to a charity event know that wine serves a major purpose at charity events for a number of causes.  From helping to bring people into the fold, to simply offering another item to bid on, wine and charities go hand in hand.

Given some of the funding needs of deaf schools, I asked my favorite cheap wine club why more wine fundraisers weren’t happening for the deaf.  He said that quite simply most fundraisers have to start looking for targets and the blind schools are not typically thought of as places to pick up huge monetary gains.  Private schools and college preperatory academies dominate the conversation to this day which is unfortunate.

Great Community Examples-Wine

When I first started thinking about ways to help the deaf community not only in the way that they build their community, but also in terms of suggestions about where to look for good examples.  The first one that came to mind was the community of winemakers and wineries.  I am a member of a premium wine club and I’ve learned a lot about winemakers since starting my membership.  The one thing which became clear was that the average winemaker is trained by a local winery and ends up staying in the same area for much of his career, outside of what generally is a small internship.

For the average deaf community in America, that’s not a bad example to follow for a few reasons, not the least of which is that so few people outside the community understand the trials and tribulations which happen on a daily basis.

The Deaf, Wine and Friends

Relationships and how they can help the deaf community.

The winemaking community is an interesting group of people.  Truly international, it also features a range of folks with really varied life experiences. While we haven’t met anyone deaf in the wine world as of yet, there is a winery in Napa Valley called Oakenfeld which gives 10% of its profits from its wine gift baskets to a charity of your choosing.

While not many people are going to choose a deaf charity, perhaps some of us can form a relationship with these folks to have our favorite deaf charities as part of their “featured” charity section!

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