Christmas may have come and gone for another year, but I’m in the mood for one more good Christmas story.
This one involves a long-time wine industry friend of mine, Daryl Groom—the man who elevated Sonoma County’s Geyser Peak Winery to world-class status before a change in ownership put him on the sidelines. These days, he’s doing his own thing, wine-wise.
Groom came to California from Australia, where he quarterbacked the legendary Penfolds Grange wine program for several vintages. He is a consummate winemaker, and he’s also a loving father—a father who has had to deal with the medical challenges of a son born with a hole in his heart.
His son’s name is Colby, and today he is 14 years old, living the life of a normal teenager—if there is such a thing.
Obviously, getting from that newborn condition to 14 years of age was no small feat. And if you’ll pardon the obvious pun, Colby Groom is a young man with a lot of heart.
The Groom family, you see, has turned Colby’s medical misfortune into a positive for people with any number of heart conditions and challenges. The full story was told in a recent press release, which I’d like to share with you now…
The Groom family, in partnership with Treasury Wine Estates, Walgreen’s stores, and other supporters, launched Colby Red Wine last year with the goal to raise money for heart charities across the U.S.Colby Red has exceeded expectations and raised an astounding $250,000, with no slowing foreseen in the future. The team is eager to hit its larger goal of $300,000 by February 2013, National Heart Month. The success of Colby Red has been incredible. The wine, produced in honor of Colby Rex Groom, survivor of two open heart surgeries and now 14 years old, is a partnership between Colby’s winemaker Dad, Daryl Groom, and Treasury Wine Estates. The wine is a unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Merlot. The $250,000 raised thus far has gone to a variety of heart charities, including the American Heart Association, Napa Valley Heart Walk, Hearts for Hope, Ohio Children’s Heart Foundation, Mended Little Hearts and many more heart-focused charities across the U.S. The list of charitable donations, which is growing by the day, can be found here in its entirety. Colby’s own heart story was the genesis for the wine’s beginning. When Colby was born, he was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect, or hole, in his heart. By age 2, the hole had healed, but doctors then found a defective heart valve. Colby underwent back-to-back open heart surgeries, at 8 and 9 years of age, to repair it. During the second surgery, he received a St. Jude’s valve developed by St. Jude Medical Foundation cardiac research. Now, Colby is a healthy and happy teenager, living a relatively normal life with a penchant for wanting to give back. It was Colby’s idea to launch this red wine to raise money so no kid would have to go through what he has endured. Colby stays busy with school and also extensively promoting his mission to raise funds for heart-related charities. He recently appeared as a guest speaker at the Chicago Heart Ball, San Francisco Heart Ball and the L.A. Go Red events, encouraging participants to support heart research. He also partnered with Angels with Hearts to plan a memorable Valentine’s Day party for kids and previous heart patients at U.C. Davis Pediatric Hospital in Sacramento, California. Colby has also taken his plea international with a media tour through East Coast Canada, spreading awareness and partnering with the Heart Stroke and Awareness Foundation, one of the charities Colby Red supports.
That’s one very special 14-year-old. A “normal teenager”? I don’t think so.