Raise a Glass for Life

You might not think selling wine has much to do with standing up for life, but a Cleveland wine marketer has found a way to put the fruit of the vine in the service of adult stem-cell research &#0151 which, of course, not only makes for good medical science but also respects the Church’s teachings on the matter.

As the head of BOGO Wines (the name is an acronym for “Buy One, Give One”), Bill Schneeberger is determined to use his products to get the word out that the use of adult stem cells is both efficacious and ethical. He also draws from his earnings to contribute money to the cause.

“The adult research is beautiful,” says Schneeberger. “It’s God’s gift, but the majority of people, because of the confusion in the mainstream media (which tends to focus on embryonic stem-cell research), don’t realize the benefits of this.”

Originally he wanted to aid breast-cancer research, but after reading Dr. Jerome Lejeune’s book Life Is a Blessing two years ago, he shifted his direction along with his focus.

Schneeberger connected with Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that opposes embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning.

“Bill approached us two years ago,” says Gene Tarne, communications director with the Do No Harm Coalition. While the coalition would have been happy to receive Schneeberger’s donations, they advised him otherwise.

“If he gave money to us, it would look as if he were taking sides,” says Tarne. “That could turn some people off. So we encouraged him to contribute directly to the organizations that support adult stem-cell research.”

The coalition put Schneeberger in touch with several organizations that are doing such research, such as SCI Research Advancement, which is dedicated to helping find therapies for spinal-cord injuries, and the Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease research.

“The coalition has guided me,” said Schneeberger. “They provide the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops with all of their information on stem-cell research.”

Adult Cells Augur Well

According to a survey commissioned by the Pro-Life Secretariat of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans strongly prefer funding research that does not require destroying human embryos.

When given a choice between funding all stem-cell research (both adult and embryonic), and funding only alternatives such as adult stem-cell research, Americans prefer funding only adult stem-cell research by a margin of 61% to 23%.

“No one that I know of is against stem-cell research,” explains Tarne. “There are different types of stem-cell research. There is adult stem-cell research and embryonic stem-cell research. In embryonic stem-cell research, you have to create an embryo, let it develop and destroy it to take the stem cells.

“States such as California are asking for money for embryonic stem-cell research &#0151 something they don’t know how to do,” says Tarne.

Meanwhile, adult stem-cell research is providing therapeutic benefit for 65 conditions. “Adult stem cells are providing patients benefits, and doing so without destroying human life,” adds Tarne. “All embryonic stem-cell research has done is destroy human embryos.”

Precisely, says Schneeberger. And that’s where “BOGO Wines comes in.

Cause in a Bottle

“Cause marketing has been around for a while, but Bill is the first one to take up the stem-cell issue and make it his,” says Tarne.

BOGO Wines’ Rosato, Rosso and Pinot Grigio lines were first launched on July 1, 2005. The wines are produced, bottled and labeled in Italy by winemaker Cantine Sgarzi. Schneeberger serves as the importer and distributor.

BOGO Wines have been put into mainstream distribution in the state of Ohio, but are also available nationally through BOGO’s website, www.BOGOwines.com.

The wines are sold in twin-packs, Schneeberger’s idea being to have consumers keep a bottle for themselves and give the other away.

BOGO’s logo is a pair of twin hearts &#0151 in honor of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary. It’s an icon that Schneeberger hopes can become the cause-marketing symbol for what he describes as “all-life giving research.”

By October, the company had made its first donation of $2,000 to three organizations that support adult stem-cell research.

The company has already received support from various pro-life organizations. Ohio Right to Life, for example, has set up an affiliate program with “BOGO. For every case of wine sold, Ohio Right to Life earns just over $8.

“The purchase of “BOGO Wines is a pro-active approach to spreading the pro-life message in a positive and practical manner,” says Denise Mackura, executive director with Ohio Right to Life. “BOGO Wines has made their statement; now it is our turn.”

The wines are garnering praise not only from those in the pro-life field, but also from wine connoisseurs.

“Each [wine] had the wonderful characteristic of Italian wines,” says Judith Majher of the American Wine Society, Cleveland chapter. She described the wines as “excellent and elegant wines from Italy that represent the new style of Italian wines &#0151 the combination of viniculture, technology and modern winemaking techniques.”

Add a subtle pro-life bouquet into each glass and you’ve got a family of wines that add life to any wine-tasting occasion &#0151 in more ways than one.

(This article is courtesy of National Catholic Register.)

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Tim Drake is an award-winning journalist, the author of six books on religion and culture, and a former radio host. Widely published, and a long-time contributor to the National Catholic Register, he serves as Executive Director of Pacem in Terris Hermitage Retreat Center in Minnesota.

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