Thirst for a Cause whets wine fans’ thirst for community service 

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Approximately three dozen wineries will be featured at the sixth annual Thirst for a Cause Wednesday, Sept. 10. Two hundred wines will be available, and you will be able to meet representatives from wineries in California, Oregon, Washington, South America, France, Spain, Italy and Australia. Many of OKC’s best local restaurants also will serve food.

The event began in 2009 as a way to help a server at a local restaurant pay for a kidney transplant. In recent years, it has grown and the means of delivering funds have changed, but the beneficiaries of the proceeds have always been employees of the hospitality industry with urgent medical expenses.

David Egan is the director of operations for Cattlemen’s Steakhouse and a board member of the Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation (OHF), the group that administers the funds that are made available to recipients. Egan said applicants should fill out a request form on the Oklahoma Restaurant Association’s website,, to be considered.

“We can’t cut a check to an individual, but we can and do write checks to hospitals or other health organizations to cover the cost of medical expenses,” Egan said.

Alex Kroblin, owner and founder of Thirst Wine Merchants, said the idea emerged among hospitality industry professionals to help a friend in need.

“We didn’t know what else to do, so we decided we could use food and wine to raise money to help people with emergencies,” he said.

Not only have they accomplished that goal, but the annual event has become the largest wine tasting in Oklahoma City and one of the three largest in the state. Unlike many wine tastings, though, Thirst for a Cause brings in winery owners and winemakers — including some of the best-known names in the business — to enable people to meet and talk with the professionals who produce and sell the wines we love.

This year, Thirst for a Cause will once again have winery representatives, including Gramercy Cellars, Mount Eden Vineyards, Mouton Noir Wines and Qupé, making their first appearances in Oklahoma. The wines come from Washington and California and represent a wide range of styles.

Oklahomans might know André Mack as a Texas native and sommelier who graduated from Oklahoma City University. A selection of Mack’s wines will be featured at Thirst for a Cause. Now, Mack’s Mouton Noir (Black Sheep) wines have been featured in Food & Wine Magazine and the The New York Times.

Greg and Pam Harrington weren’t the only people to recognize how outstanding the wines coming from Walla Walla, Washington, are, but they certainly help people learn about them, especially this year at Thirst for a Cause.

Greg became a master sommelier at age 26, and Pam’s work as a successful investment banker made it possible for the team to purchase vineyards in Walla Walla and create Gramercy Cellars, which Food & Wine Magazine named the Best New Winery in America in 2010.

Finally, if you saw the comedy film Bottle Shock, you know that the Judgment of Paris in 1976 was when California wines finally achieved world- class status. In fact, the winery was invited back in 1986 and again for the final tasting in 2006. Mayacamas was founded in 1889 and has been producing wines off and on since then.

Its newest wines will be featured this year as well.

Restaurants include: 

1.      Holloway Restaurant Group (two tables featuring Park House & Boulevard Steakhouse) 2.      Hot Tamale Grill / Lindsey’s Sweets 3.      The Mantel Wine Bar & Bistro 4.      Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse 5.      Packard’s New American Kitchen 6.      Paseo Grill 7.      Pearl’s Seafood 8.      Sushi Neko 9.      Tommy’s Italian American Grill

Source: Oklahoma Restaurant Association

Print headline: Thirst day

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Greg Horton

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