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¡Salud! the neglected workers that make Oregon wine possible

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R Stuart ¡Salud! Pinot noir

As harvest nears in the Willamette Valley, vineyards are preparing for the grape pickers to arrive. These migrant workers travel from place to place, harvesting grapes as they ripen. Oregon’s wine industry would not be possible without their skilled labor to bring the grapes in from the state’s 850+ vineyards.

Twenty-one years ago, the tight-knit wine community in the Willamette Valley decided to create ¡Salud! in an effort to support the seasonal workers so important to their business. ¡Salud! has grown into a unique collaboration with Tuality Healthcare that provides basic healthcare services to migrant vineyard workers and their families.

With an annual silent and live auction, Pinot noir tasting and dinner gala, ¡Salud! raises money to help cover healthcare expenses for this all important workforce. With cooperation from 43 winemakers and wineries, all of whom make unique cuvee blends donated to the nonprofit, that are then sold off to wine collectors during the fast paced auction. This two-day event is the key fundraiser for ¡Salud! and the organization’s success depends on the generous donors who support its cause by buying donated auction items, including wine, barrels, private winemaker dinners and much more.

“To our understanding, no other agricultural industry in the country supports its seasonal workers at this level,” says event co-chair Will Neuhauser. “Despite the best intentions in the world, wineries can’t supply health care and other benefits to this vital workforce because they are only with individual vineyards for a short period of time, often just days or weeks. This is an impactful way to give back to the people who work hard to bring in the grapes to make outstanding wine.”

In 2011, ¡Salud!’s total program expenses were $695,000 but by developing unique partnerships with healthcare organizations, the nonprofit was able to deliver $3 of service for every $1 spent. They provided:

3400 dental procedures

658 influenza and tetanus vaccinations

237 vision exams and glasses

200 x-ray and lab diagnostics

106 major medical including Emergency, surgery and hospitalization

It’s simply the right thing to do,” agreed co-chair Donna Morris of Winderlea Vineyard & Winery. “These workers move from crop to crop with no healthcare support. ¡Salud! alleviates many costly ER visits because we can address health concerns before they become acute.”

This year’s Pinot noir tasting and auction takes place on Friday, November 9 at Domaine Drouhin Oregon in Dayton and the dinner gala the following night, Saturday, November 10 at the Governor Hotel in downtown Portland.

Help support ¡Salud!’s 21 year commitment to providing healthcare to Oregon’s seasonal grape pickers by joining the festivities both nights.

Tickets are $395 and can be purchased here

Friday, November 9: Pinot noir tasting, silent and live auction at Domaine Drouhin Oregon, 6750 Breyman Orchards Road, Dayton, Oregon

Map to Domaine Drouhin Oregon

Saturday, November 10: Dinner Gala at the Governor Hotel, 614 SW 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Map to Governor Hotel

Since 1992, ¡Salud! has raised over $9 million, all with the goal of supporting the health and well being of the seasonal workers that play an important role in the Oregon wine industry.

2012 “Vintners Circle” wineries
Adelsheim Vineyard
Amalie Robert Estate
Antica Terra
ArborBrook Vineyards
Archery Summit
Argyle Winery
Ayres Vineyard
Beaux Frères
Bethel Heights Vineyard
Brittan Vineyards
Brooks Winery
Chehalem Wines
Cristom Vineyards
Dobbes Family Estate
Domaine Drouhin Oregon
Dusky Goose
Elk Cove Vineyards
Erath Winery
Evening Land Vineyards
Hamacher Wines
King Estate Winery
Lange Estate Winery
Maysara Winery
Panther Creek Cellars
Patricia Green Cellars
Patton Valley Vineyard
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
Ponzi Vineyards
R. Stuart & Co.
Raptor Ridge Winery
Scott Paul Wines
Shea Wine Cellars
Sokol Blosser
Soléna Estate
Soter Vineyards
St. Innocent Winery
Stoller Family Estate
Torii Mor
Trisaetum
WillaKenzie Estate
Willamette Valley Vineyards
Winderlea Vineyard & Winery
Witness Tree Vineyard

Michele Francisco
Michele Francisco, a founder and regular contributor to Winerabble, a blog primarily about Pacific Northwest wines, is living the dream in Portland, Oregon. Her passion leads some to believe she's got wine running through her veins. Contact Michele at michele@winerabble.com & be sure to visit her online portfolio at www.michelefrancisco.com.

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