Giving hope by the glass

OneHope, a nonprofit wine company based in Newport Beach, recently announced a new partnership with Robert Mondavi Jr. of the renowned wine-making family.

Until the partnership with Mondavi, OneHope was working with David Elliott, formerly of the Healdsburg, Calif.-based winery Lancaster Estate.

OneHope Chief Executive Jake Kloberdanz is looking forward to the new relationship with Mondavi.

"The (Mondavi) name has a rich tradition in the wine industry," he said. "All the wines are taking a step up. That has always been our goal … to deliver in terms of quality."

He said Mondavi fit in with the up-and-coming entrepreneurs at OneHope.

"Rob fit the culture of our company very well," he said. "He's a young winemaker that is very charismatic."

The younger Mondavi grew up playing at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley. He joined the company in 2002 as a sales manager, eventually becoming the sales director. In 2004, he and his family founded Folio Fine Wine Partners, where he is now president.

Started in 2007 by eight friends and inspired by a friend's battle with cancer, OneHope donates 50% from the sales of each of its varietals to different charities.

When the company started, under the name Hope Wine, the eight business partners were between 24 and 29 years old, and left sales gigs in the wine industry to capitalize on a novel idea: wine with a cause.

They wanted the charitable aspect to be the constant in the product, not a variable factor as other brands have done.

"Jake thought, why just capture that one- or six-week period of sales when you can do something like have a year-round push and still have the money go to a charitable organization?" Tom Leahy, co-founder, told the Daily Pilot in 2007.

A year later, the Pilot checked in with OneHope after raising $4,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The company was said to be aiming for a $100,000 donation for 2008. Only three years later, OneHope has raised more than $275,000 for charitable organizations and has worked with more than 300 charities.

Although the company has expanded to become a national brand, Orange County is close to OneHope's soul because first account was signed there.

Co-founders Jake Kloberdanz, Tom Leahy and Brandon Hall were having lunch at Mama D's Italian restaurant on the Newport Peninsula, discussing their new venture, when the restaurant's owner, Keith Davidson, signed their first OneHope order.

"They're still a really important account to us," Kloberdanz said.

They have six varietals for six different charities: chardonnay for breast cancer; cabernet sauvignon for autism; zinfandel for the armed forces; merlot for AIDS; sauvignon blanc for environmental awareness; and pinot noir for children's hospitals.

In two months, Kloberdanz announced, the website will launch "the best wine store on the market." The new e-commerce site will not only be easier to navigate but it will offer yet another way to give. On top of the 50% that goes to charity, shoppers can choose to donate 10% to 20% of their total purchase to a long list of charities.

"It allows us to create virtual partnerships with 10 to 20 charities every month," Kloberdanz said.

If this news wasn't enough evidence of the quick rise to success, in November the company will host a star-studded event in Malibu. Held at an exclusive $65 million wine estate, the OneHope foundation is partnering with three celebrities and their causes, raising money for Matt Damon with ONEXONE, Alicia Keys with Keep A Child Alive and Forest Whitaker with Hope North.

Kloberdanz said they already have raised $25,000 for each charity due to their sponsors.

"We started to grow into more than just a wine company; now we have OneHope foundation," he said. "The concept is one hope, many causes."

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