Some of the world’s best wineries will be featured Sept. 18 in Oklahoma City at the seventh annual Thirst for a Cause. The event raises money to assist employees in the hospitality industry with medical costs and insurance.
Tickets are $75 in advance and $89 at the door, and entry includes access to food from nearly 20 of the metro’s finest restaurants. An auction to raise funds will also be held at the event. Guests must be 21 and up to attend.
Alex Kroblin — co-owner of Thirst Wine Merchants, 4100 Will Rogers Pkwy. — the event’s sponsor, said the idea for the philanthropic night came about accidentally.
“We were already doing Thirst Day seven years ago, and the first couple years were kind of small. One year, 25 wineries agreed to show up, and we had no idea what to do with all the winemakers and winery owners.”
Kroblin talked to a group of restaurateurs — Michel Buthion of La Baguette, 7408 N. May Ave.; Kurt Fleischfresser of The Coach House, 6437 Avondale Dr.; and David Egan of Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, 1309 S. Agnew Ave. — and one of them mentioned an employee who was struggling with cancer. The employee lacked funds to pay for treatment, and the restaurants partnered with Thirst Wine Merchants to create the event.
Thirst for a Cause has gained momentum, and this year, approximately 50 wineries will pour more than 150 wines, including firsttime visitors like Favia, Lail, Maison L’Orée, Robert Foley and Sandhi.
“We get better participation every year because wineries now want to come be a part of the event,” Kroblin said.
For example, Favia wines, made by Annie Favia, wife of superstar winemaker Andy Erickson of Screaming Eagle and Leviathan fame. The two are genuine rock stars in the wine world.
“We only get five cases (60 bottles) of Favia per label,” Kroblin said, “but they want to come because people here really get their wines.”Lail Vineyards came to Oklahoma City several years ago for the Napa Valley Vintners Association (NVVA) event. At the time, it lacked representation in the state. For a winery to have product in Oklahoma, it must work with a licensed agent (brokerage) in the state, he said.
Kroblin met the Lail representative at the NVVA event, and the two developed a relationship that landed some of Napa’s best wines on Oklahoma shelves and wine lists.
Also new to the state are the Sandhi wines. These Burgundystyle Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are the work of winemaker Sashi Moorman and sommelier Rajat Parr. Parr worked for some of the best restaurants in the country, and both are considered experts in the area of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The San Francisco Chronicle said the fruit it used from the Santa Rita Hills was an “extraordinary reminder” that the wines are produced in the area’s ‘sweet spot.’” Robert Foley Vineyards also will be available for the first time. The man best known for the Hourglass wines has now turned his full attention to his own wines, and the results are spectacular.
“[Wineries] get a chance to participate in a good cause and to visit a market they genuinely enjoy,” said Kroblin.