Walgreens offers own brand of wine

DEERFIELD — Walgreens and Australian winemaker Daryl Groom launched Colby Red, a new table wine blend produced in partnership with Treasury Wine Estates. The brand is dedicated to raising awareness for heart disease as the Groom Family supports the American Heart Association and partners with the St. Jude Medical Foundation to identify other cardiac research organizations and families in need.

Colby Red is being sold through a collaboration with Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, and will arrive on store shelves in the coming weeks. Full rollout to more than 4,500 Walgreens locations is expected during February.

The 2009 Colby Red is a California cuvée of cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, Shiraz, merlot and petite sirah from select Treasury Wine Estates vineyards, retailing for $12.99. Groom was inspired to create the wine in honor of his 12-year old son, Colby Rex Groom, who was born with a hole in his heart and has undergone multiple surgeries to treat the defect.

Colby was first diagnosed with a heart defect when he was born. By the age of 2, the atrial septal defect, or “hole,” had healed itself but doctors quickly found a defective heart valve.

When Colby was 8, with his heart leaking and deteriorating, the family decided to have him undergo open-heart surgery to repair the valve. When that repair did not hold, Colby received a St. Jude Medical mechanical heart valve. The association with St. Jude Medical Foundation resulted in a commitment from Daryl and his wife, Lisa, and later Colby, to support education and research for children's cardiac care so parents will not have to endure the fear, distress and uncertainty the family experienced while Colby was being diagnosed and treated.

“We've been truly blessed and inspired by our son,” Daryl Groom said in a statement. “It wasn't a big surprise when he expressed interest in learning more about growing grapes and making wine, since he lives in the middle of vineyards and the family business is crafting artisan wines. But raising awareness and money for heart research has given our Colby Red project a very special place in all our hearts.”

“Colby Red will make a great addition to Walgreens wine selection, and it's an honor to feature a product that stands for quality and supports cardiac research,” Bryan Pugh, Walgreens vice president of merchandising, said in a statement. “The Groom family's initiative fits well with our focus and commitment to healthy living. We look forward to working with them to promote this brand and make this new wine a success.”

Treasury Wine Estates, parent company of Australian icon Penfolds, where Groom once served as senior red winemaker, will match the contributions of the Groom family. Together they plan to donate a combined $100,000 to the American Heart Association with the first vintage. As the wine gains acceptance in the marketplace, so will the contributions from the Groom family. The Groom family also plans to donate their product for local American Heart Association events that raise funds for heart research, such as its annual Cotes du Couer Dallas, the Heart Ball in Orlando, the Chicago Heart Ball and various American Heart Association Go Red For Women luncheons across the nation.

“When we heard about Colby, and about Daryl's idea to raise money with Colby Red, we knew we could help with both vineyard sourcing and an expression of our support for the cause,” said Stephen Brauer, managing director of Treasury Wine Estates. “This is a wine that not only tastes good, but also gives to a worthwhile cause. We see the project as a natural extension of our ongoing commitment to our community.”

Since his operation, Colby is “healthy, happy and growing like crazy,” says Daryl Groom, although needed medications limit participation in contact sports and regular monitoring of his medical status will be an ongoing part of his life. His focus remains on helping others, rather than his own situation.