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Firefighter turned winemaker, issues volunteer cabernet

Winemaker: ‘It is harder to volunteer one hour than to donate $1'

The Chattanooga Times Free Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Tennesseans can celebrate their volunteer spirit this football season with a special-label Volunteer Cabernet Sauvignon from BNA Wine Group.

The Nashville-based wine company has produced a limited number of bottles of its Volunteer wine with a label that features a raised orange hand. The special-label bottles are available in wine stores across Tennessee and retail for $30.

“Our Volunteer Cab salutes the spirit of those who give their time to help others, but it can also make for great sipping and conversation during Tennessee tailgate parties,” said John Hooper, owner and president of BNA Wine Group.

BNA winemaker Tony Leonardini has served for more than 10 years as a volunteer firefighter with the fire department in St. Helena, Calif., in the heart of the Napa Valley wine country. His volunteerism and his belief that “it is harder to volunteer an hour than donate a dollar” inspired the wine’s name.

“Tennessee was named the Volunteer State because of the long-standing reputation of volunteerism by the state’s residents, dating back to the Civil War,” said Hooper. “So whether you’re celebrating a Big Orange victory or saluting someone who gives their time, what better place to offer our special-label Volunteer wine than Tennessee and Knoxville, home of the Vols.”

The 2009 Volunteer Cabernet Sauvignon was blended with small amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and then aged in 100 percent French oak barrels for 20 months. It is a medium-density Cabernet with hints of cherry, cranberry and toasted vanilla.

It can be enjoyed immediately or cellared for several years.

Copyright 2012 Chattanooga Publishing Company