A week ago (Wednesday, April 6) we attended the Vital Wines Launch Dinner at the Whitehouse-Crawford Restaurant in Walla Walla. Over a hundred people showed up to hear Ashley Trout (formerly of Flying Trout Winery) talk about her nonprofit winery whose sole purpose is to raise money for SOS Health Services in College Place, providing free, no questions asked, health care. This makes available health care to the many winery workers without medical insurance, something that is prevalent in the industry, much of which is seasonal. Ashley, herself, worked in the wine industry without health insurance for eight years. It became apparent to her that something needed to be done to help which is how Vital Winery came into being.

Vital Winery operates largely with donated resources, wine grapes, winemaking equipment, bottles, labels, shipping materials, just about everything involved in making wine. The first release is a 2015 Rosé Wine, made from Sangiovese from the Seven Hills Vineyard, and a red blend will be released in the Fall. Wines will be sold directly through a wine club and mailing list, as well as some select retail outlets. All profits go to the SOS Clinic. The 2015 Rosé is available for $18 a bottle. Go to www.vitalwinery.com for more information. In addition to Ashley, the assistant winemaker is Tim Doyle (who was at our table), social media director, Morgan Mayfield and public relations, Bob Silver. Compliance and bookkeeping is provided by Winery Compliance Services. And many other services are being donated.

The dinner, which included many winery workers whose meals were paid for as part of the dinner payments, was a great success. In addition to the new Rosé, many donated wines were poured. We had a lovely 2013 Reininger Carmenere and a robust Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon (made by Ashley's husband, Brian Rudin) and much more. The Rosé was made in a fresh, lively, dry style, with notes of berries, cherries and watermelon. The three course dinner consisted of Fuji apple salate with pecans and Oregon blue cheese, spicy lamb sausage, and Grand Marnier cake.

Kudos to Ashley Trout for spearheading this project. It's all about "Taking care of each other."