Deborah Hall’s Gypsy Canyon Winery is one of the most coveted producers in the Sta. Rita Hills, thanks to meticulously crafted pinot noir and a fortified, California-history-laced bottling of rediscovered mission grapes called angelica. Yet she was not entirely fulfilled with her liquid contributions to the greater world, so Hall recently launched the Ground Boots label, a fundraising project whose motto is “funding global good, sip by sip.” Last week, she told me a little more about Ground Boots, whose first 100 cases of Santa Barbara County pinot noir are already three-quarters gone, even at $70 a bottle. See groundboots.org.
What prompted this project? It was about this time last year, and I just did a check on my life, my past and my future, and asked, “Who do you want to be?” I’m in my fifties now, so you look back and see what you’ve accomplished. As a child, I always wanted to be a veterinarian, and life took a different turn, so I went back to those roots. At this stage of life, I’m certainly not going back to school, but I wanted to make an impact that wasn’t just making a donation somewhere. Now I know the wine business and have an experienced palate, so the ideas just started flowing, and the next thing you know, I have a whole label with grand plans.
How did you select the first recipient? Soi Dog [Foundation] just came across my Facebook page. They were showing the terrible conditions [for dogs in Thailand], but also showing what they did about it. I went back there last summer and worked with them for two weeks. They were making radical impacts and really saving lives—not just putting a Band-Aid on the situation but fixing the situation. And you can save 10 dogs in Thailand whereas you can only save one here for the same dollar. Plus, the situation is really dire there because of the illegal dog meat trade. I will go back this summer with a journalist and videographer and use social media to show in real time the work that we are doing.