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Wine Company Pairs Merlot, Charity

"Our culture is not just donating through our company, but as individuals being really involved in our community and rolling up our sleeves," says Kloberdanz. "We've been active in over 100 fundraisers this last year for different non-profits. For instance, five out of the eight on our team did the AIDS LifeCycle last year and rode 550 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and I think our Hope Wine team raised $20,000."

As most consumers don't have the time or stamina to ride 500-plus miles for the cause of their choice, Hope Wine's "cause business" model represents progressive change. In the past year, Hope Wine donated more than $100,000 to charities, with a much larger amount anticipated for 2009. Kloberdanz projects revenue to top $2.5 million from the production of 25,000 to 35,000 cases of wine next year, up from 10,000 cases and just under $1 million in revenue in 2008.

Many veteran business leaders might wonder how a company can donate 50% of its profits and still survive. After all, business is tough for larger wine and liquor companies -- Robert Mondavi (MOND), Concha y Toro (VCO - Get Report) and Constellation Brands (STZ - Get Report). The secret, according to Kloberdanz, is a minuscule marketing budget. Hope Wine has partnered with many non-profit organizations that are more than happy to market Hope Wine. The do-good business model also gets attention from the media. Since various causes have their own month dedicated to them (breast cancer in October, autism in April, AIDS in December), it makes a company like Hope Wine a seamless fit for press coverage.

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