Dunne on Wine

Wines that help raise funds for medical research

Vincent and Kathleen Friend created the wine Delaney Blue to raise funds for diabetes research.
Vincent and Kathleen Friend created the wine Delaney Blue to raise funds for diabetes research.

Delaney Friend and Colby Rex Groom aren’t old enough to drink wine legally, but they are the inspirations for two wines created to provide both pleasure and hope.

On her 12th birthday in 2008, Friend, of Sacramento, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

When he was born 20 years ago, Groom was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. The Healdsburg native subsequently went through two open-heart surgeries to repair a defective valve.

Both youths have parents in the wine business who are building on the experiences of their children to promote medical research on diabetes and heart ailments.

Last fall, Vincent and Kathleen Friend introduced Delaney Blue, a snappy and sweetly fruity 2014 sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley. Their inaugural release, made at Sonoma Wine Co. of Graton, totaled 600 cases, which by the time it sells out is expected to have raised around $25,000 for diabetes research, says Vincent Friend, who founded the wine-importing company Colección Internacional del Vino (CIV) of Sacramento in 1990.

The couple are transitioning CIV into a new company, Cordelina, through which they distribute domestic wines such as Delaney Blue as well as the Spanish imports on which they have focused for the past 26 years. The 2015 vintage of Delaney Blue is to be released this fall.

Nearly six years ago, Daryl and Lisa Groom introduced the first Colby Red, a fresh and supple mix of cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, syrah, merlot and petite sirah harvested in 2009 from vineyards scattered through California’s North Coast. So far, some 120,000 cases of Colby Red have been sold, raising $800,000 for cardiac research, says Daryl Groom, a veteran winemaker who before he emigrated to California in 1990 was making the red wines for Australian vintner Penfolds, including its most highly acclaimed wine.

The current Colby Red, from the 2014 harvest, is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, zinfandel, merlot and syrah. Groom made 30,000 cases of the wine at Lange Twins Winery & Vineyards in Lodi.

Both sets of parents are channeling revenues from wine sales into research and other programs hoping to find cures and make life easier for people with diabetes and heart disease.

“This wine was created specifically to raise money for diabetes research,” says Vincent Friend of Delaney Blue. “We are using the wine to raise money, we aren’t using the ‘cause’ of diabetes to sell more wine, and we aren’t promoting it as a wine for diabetics.” (Nonetheless, labels on the next vintage of Delaney Blue will include information about sugar and carbohydrates in the wine.)

Which raises the question: Can those diagnosed with diabetes drink wine?

“Many people with diabetes enjoy wine, and a few considerations can help people (with diabetes) enjoy wine while staying healthy,” says Deborah Greenwood, program director for the Sutter Health Integrated Diabetes Education Network and immediate past president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “The Mediterranean diet is healthy for people with diabetes, and it includes wine,” she adds.

The keys for people with diabetes amount to the same awareness and moderation recommended for the general population, including keeping an eye on blood glucose levels and limiting consumption of wine to no more than two five-ounce pours a day for men and one five-ounce pour a day for women, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The association also advises people with diabetes to eat food while consuming alcohol to prevent low blood glucose, especially if they are on insulin and diabetes pills such as sulfonylureas and meglitinides (Prandin).

Other measures people with diabetes are urged to consider include drinking wine with a zero-calorie beverage like water, iced tea or diet soda to assure they remain hydrated, wearing an identification bracelet that notes the person has diabetes and sipping wine slowly to make it last.

“The biggest risk is hypoglycemia or low blood glucose,” Greenwood notes. People with diabetes who enjoy wine may want to watch their blood glucose, especially just before they go to bed; if glucose is on the low end of their goal range, a snack can help prevent middle-of-the-night low blood glucose, she says.

She is aware of Delaney Blue, having bought a bottle during a silent auction at a diabetes fundraiser. “It was very good,” she says. Wine magazines also have weighed in positively, with Wine Enthusiast calling the wine “flowery and lemony” and Wine Spectator praising its “core of juicy citrus and apple flavors.”

Delaney Blue, incidentally, isn’t blue. The Friends note that the melodious brand was inspired by their daughter’s name and the International Diabetes Federation’s use of a blue circle for its icon.

Selling for a suggested retail price of $15, Delaney Blue is available at Save Mart stores and some Raley’s, as well as through the websites delaneybluewine.com and wine.com.

Colby Red, which sells for a suggested retail price of $14, is available in licensed Walgreens drug stores and some branches of Total Wine & More. It is poured by the glass at several restaurants, including some branches of California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, and will be served in business class on United Airlines flights starting early next year.

Delaney Friend, meanwhile, is a sophomore at DePaul University in Chicago, where she’s studying public relations, advertising and community service. She also has started a blog about living with type 1 diabetes, My DBlue Life.

Last month, Colby Groom started as a political science and philosophy major at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He graduated from Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, where he received his class’s Outstanding Service Award. As a spokesman for the Children’s Heart Association, he speaks often at charity events around the country.

Wine critic and competition judge Mike Dunne’s selections are based solely on open and blind tastings, judging at competitions, and visits to wine regions. He can be reached at dmichaeldunne@gmail.com.