About $6,000 has been raised for the #MichiganWineMonthChallenge with less than two weeks to go.
All month, wineries across Michigan have been offering gift packages that are up for bid as part of a collaboration between the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) and the Michigan Wine Collaborative. The MRLA created The Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund to provide grants to the state’s hospitality industry employees who have been furloughed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the #MichiganWineMonthChallenge was formed to support that effort.
“I’m hearing from the wineries that are participating that they are all excited by the amount we have raised so far and glad to be a part of it,” says Brian Lillie, director of hospitality operations and distribution at Chateau Chantal and Michigan Wine Collaborative board member.
To date, $250,000 has been distributed to 620 people in $395 increments, says Amanda Smith, MRLA executive vice president and executive director of the MRLA Educational Foundation. As additional funds come in from the wine month challenge, private foundations and interested companies, more will be given out.
“One young woman who received funds has lost her current part-time job, her college graduation ceremony and her offer for a manager track job at the hotel (post-graduation),” Smith says, by way of giving an example of the people who work in restaurants, hotels, bars, breweries, food trucks and, yes, winery tasting rooms who have been helped by the fundraising. “Both of her parents were furloughed from COVID-19.
“Families who received a check from the fund … it was their first money in six weeks because unemployment was so backlogged.”
Wineries offering gift packages include 2 Lads Winery, Amoritas Vineyards, Black Star Farms, Bonobo Winery, Chateau Chantal, Fenn Valley Vineyards, Hawthorne Vineyards, Left Foot Charley, Love Wines Winery of Ludington, Mawby, Modales Wines, Shady Lane Cellars and St. Julian Winery & Distillery.
To participate, purchase virtual tickets for $10 each to bid on prize packages of interest. Each ticket equals one entry. The more virtual tickets participants submit, the better the odds of winning. The drawing will take place on the MRLA Facebook page live at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 3, at facebook.com/theofficialmrla/.