Sponsored: Kenwood Vineyards’ Holiday Food Drive for WhyHunger

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Kenwood Vineyards. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

This weekend was a big weekend for wine – but surprisingly, although the Denver International Wine Festival was happening just a few miles from my apartment, that wasn’t the reason for it. Instead, it was just lots of great get-togethers with some great friends.

My company’s regional all hands was on Friday, and after the meeting, a coworker and I decided to continue the fun at some of the bars/restaurants on Larimer Street. Although I had been to Corridor 44 once before, I had never yet been for happy hour. Big mistake! Corridor 44 is a champagne bar, and it’s not really a cheap place… except during happy hour, when all the exquisite champagne cocktails were just $4. Why, yes, I will have another glass of bubbly! (And repeat, and repeat…)

Champagne at Corridor44

The gorgeous champagne tower at Corridor 44 – these are regular champagne, not the cocktails, but still awesome!

On Saturday, I spent most of the day being totally lazy. I was supposed to do my long run, and despite the fact that it was a gloriously beautiful day (temps got into the 60s!), I just wasn’t feeling it. Instead, I got to go to my friend Kelly’s house for brunch, take care of a ton of errands in the afternoon, go watch Kelly’s stepdaughter compete at the state gymnastics championships, and then head to my friend Mike’s for… more wine. I definitely wasn’t complaining! Mike is quite the wine connoisseur, and I was really impressed by the wines he selected for us to try. Plus, there’s just something about wine that makes any gathering even more festive.

Kellys 30th Birthday Toast

Even if you’re already in an amazing place with amazing people, wine makes things feel even more special!

So when I hosted girls’ night at my place on Sunday, despite the fact that we all wanted to be healthy and avoid overindulging, I brought out a few bottles of wine to set the mood. Kenwood Vineyards was kind enough to send me a few bottles of their wine to try, and we were pretty impressed! Kenwood is a Sonoma, California winery, and in order to produce truly premium wines, they actually source their grapes from dozens of vineyards. Each lot of grapes from each vineyard is kept separate throughout the winemaking process, so the winemaker can treat each separately and bring it to its fullest potential. This “small lot” or “cuvee” style of winemaking also allows the winemaker to then draw from the broad palette of grapes in order to assemble the perfect wine that will showcase the most classic character of the varietal and be exceptionally balanced. Impressively, many are farmed sustainably, using natural soil amendments and pest controls whenever possible. These are wines you can feel great about drinking!

Kenwood Vineyards Bottles

Plus, the bottles are simple and elegant.

My friend Caitlin and I absolutely loved the chardonnay in particular. I really love oaked chardonnays, and this one was toasty without being overpowering. I was a little nervous to look up the price point though… this was a wine I would definitely buy again, but I had no idea if it would be expensive. Amazingly, Kenwood’s online store sells it for just $14 a bottle! (Currently sold out online, but you can look for it in person at your nearest liquor store.) As I perused the rest of the online store, I found that all of the price points were totally reasonable, even if you want to go up to their higher quality Reserve Series ($22-35 per bottle). Serving wine is a big part of having friends over for me, so I was really thrilled to find a wine so affordable that’s also so delicious.

This Thanksgiving, Kenwood Vineyards is doing something very special and donating $25,000 to the WhyHunger charity. WhyHunger is a recognized leader in the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment. I love that by buying Kenwood Vineyards wine, I’m also helping to give back during the holiday season. Since I didn’t purchase the wine that my friends and I shared, I decided to instead donate the approximate purchase price to Kenwood’s Holiday Food Drive for WhyHunger. I love that they personalize the donations to Thanksgiving – donate $40 for a turkey, $15 for veggies, $10 for bread/stuffing, and $10 for dessert – so that you really feel like you are making a tangible difference.

Somewhat-related tangent for Colorado readers: growing up in Albany, I usually volunteered at Project Equinox on Thanksgiving, delivering meals to shut-ins or those who couldn’t afford dinner. I did some work with the Food Bank of the Rockies last Friday (and 34 Degrees Crisps is now organizing bi-monthly events there to give back! I love when companies support their communities); I’m also scheduled to help out at A Precious Child next week. However, I haven’t been able to find anyplace in the greater Denver/Boulder area looking for volunteers on Thanksgiving Day. Anyone know of an organization where I could volunteer for a few hours in between cooking/house prepping? I would love to get to do something on Thanksgiving Day!

I’ve already shared my Thanksgiving menu, but what I didn’t share is drinks. Since all my guests were asking what they could bring, I decided to let them cover the wine (though I have a stockpile of my own just in case – including a bottle of Kenwood’s Cabernet Sauvignon). While I know all the rules for how to perfectly pair food with the appropriate wine thanks to a college course in wine tasting, I am usually pretty flexible as long as they don’t totally clash. If you’d like to be more prescriptive about your wine pairings for Thanksgiving, though, I liked this Thrillist guide (which also includes some great beers).

Does wine play an important role for you in making an occasion festive and fun? How do you give back during the holiday season?

Note: Kenwood Vineyards provided me with product samples and a promotional item in exchange for this review. I received no other compensation for this post. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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