Wine for a cause – Photo gallery included | TheUnion.com

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Wine for a cause – Photo gallery included

It could have been Tuscany in Italy, the Rhine Valley in Germany, Cape Town in South Africa, or Bordeaux in France ” the inebriating aroma of fresh-distilled wine in the breeze, the soft, almost inaudible sound of the deep red liquid purling into slender goblets, dishes brimming with herbs, grapes, strawberries and cheese ” and all around a sense of celebration amidst 50 acres of rolling vineyard.

But it was the Lucchesi Vineyards and Winery in Nevada County.

On a wide, gray porch outside the “barrel room,” where wine is aged in tanks and barrels, people from the Barbara Schmidt Millar Memorial Fund and the Sierra Nevada Breast Imaging Center met the owners of the winery on Feb. 17 to celebrate the sampling and bottling of the new Celebration of Life, Women’s Triathlon Red Table Wine created to commemorate the triathlon organized annually by the Fund.

The Barbara Schmidt Millar Memorial Fund raises money for the treatment of breast cancer for uninsured and underprivileged women. The free mammograms are carried out by the Sierra Nevada Breast Imaging Center in Grass Valley.

A special label for the new wine shows a female figure rising out a mauve lily against a black background. Proceeds from the sales ” $5 out of every $19, the price of a bottle ” will go to the Barbara Schmidt Millar Memorial Fund.

“I was always interested (in the cause of breast cancer),” said Linda Clough, owner of the Lucchesi vineyards and winery. “I have had women in my family who had breast cancer. So it was always a concern of mine.

“I found out about the triathlon at an event, and I met Barbara’s friend, Cathy, and said one day we want to do something (for the Fund), whatever we can do.”

Seeing some other wineries sponsor similar fundraisers was an inspiration. It finally led to the creation of the new wine ” a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

The money raised by the Barbara Schmidt Millar Memorial Fund goes to the Sierra Breast Imaging Center. It also provides for scholarships for female graduates of Nevada Union High School who go into health care. Some of the money also goes to setting up the triathlon the following year. Millar was a resident of Nevada County who succumbed to cancer in 1995. The Fund was created in her memory by her friends.

When the event was held for the first time in 1995, it involved only 13 women. Last year, the number of participants had grown to 400. This year’s event will be held at Cascade Shores at Scott’s Flat Lake above Nevada City on Sept. 17.

“For about three years, we raised around $15,000 to $18,000,” said Cathy Anderson-Meyers, one of the first organizers of the triathlon and a friend of Millar. “After that there was $30,000 to $33,000 for several years. Then for the last two years, we have had $40,000.”

“It’s absolutely fabulous,” said Karen Schmidt Ling, sister of Millar, about the new liaison between Lucchesi Vineyard and the triathlon. “What Linda (Clough) and Mario ( Linda’s husband and co-owner of Lucchesi) are doing is beyond our expectation.

“They approached us about it and offered to do it. It was a very generous offer on their behalf.”