Drinking alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. There is a correlation between alcohol and domestic abuse. Alcoholism among women is rising (or maybe just now being recognized). Yet Wines by Wives, a wine club conceived by women reality TV “celebrities” is pushing booze and donating a portion of the net profits to a breast cancer charity and a shelter for abused women. So messed up.
I am all for women making money and creating their own jobs, which sometimes means really breaking out of the norm. Madam Walker, Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Vigée-LeBrun, Jane Austin, Louisa May Alcott, Mae West, Marie Laveau, Tori Spelling’s relentless round of lifestyle shows–the list of women who have found ways to survive, support themselves and their families, and build fortunes is endless and inspiring. But there is something really repulsive and poorly conceived about Wines by Wives.
Where to begin? Probably most readers of Firedoglake haven’t polluted their minds and wasted their time watching any of the “Housewives” shows and their hideous siblings: Real Housewives of <insert allegedly glam location here>, Mob Wives, and Jerseylicious, or explored the ghastly blogs at Divalysscious Mom which bills itself as
Think Sex and the City meets Mommy and Me.
Spare yourself and just bear with me. Looking to leverage their onscreen drinking and fame as reality stars into a more profitable venture, Wines by Wives co-founders Tamra Barney and Vicki Gunvalson (both from the Real Housewives of Orange County)
were enjoying a glass of wine with their friend Christopher Gravagna, a New York City businessman and internet entrepreneur. After a glass or two they agreed that it would be great to have a business where you made money by promoting wine, and then Wines by Wives was born.
Part of the lure appears to be the glamor with which these “celebrities” imbue their selections. Join one of the wives’ teams and receive two bottles of wine she claims to have chosen. Clad in bedazzled tee shirts holding cheetah-spotted or rhinestone decorated wine glasses, each woman writes
which reads like they want us to harvest sweaty boy toys for them from the vineyards, rather than to subscribe to their wine choices. Each then offers a few word about why you should join her team of wine sluggers while describing herself.
Co-founder Barney is especially inspiring:
Now you get to share my passion for Drinking on the Job [sic]
while her partner in whine, Vicki Gunvalson–who had her last boozy venture Vicki’s Vokda end with a lawsuit filed by her former business partner alleging fraud–cheers:
With everything that goes on in my life, I enjoy relaxing at home with these two great wines.
These aren’t “great” wines. They are argument and hangover producing wines that will run you $34.90 for two bottles, plus shipping and handling. One of Barney’s selected red wines, Fox Brook Cabernet Sauvginon, is available elsewhere for $5.99 as is the “buttery” Foxbrook Chardonnay; another wife’s offering was found for $7.99, and third for $9.44.
There are also Wines by Wives branded house wines, including Tamra Barney’s “Too Good To Throw” non-vintage sauvignon blanc and non-vintage cabernet sauvingon:
inspired by the Real Housewives of OC Star as she rather have an amazing glass of wine than throw it.
Because that’s what happens on these shows, the women get drunk and throw wine on each other. And they also think rosé is white wine, which is totally pathetic, especially as they push themselves as wine enthusiasts. Technically, a rosé is a red wine, because it made from red wine grapes. In the most common method, called limited maceration, the skin, seeds, and stems (pomace) are left in the tanks of fermenting juice for a short period of time, sometimes only hours, depending on what the vintner is trying to achieve. The winemaker will then drain the juice from the pomace and transfer it to another tank for further fermentation. The longer the juice and pomace stay in contact, the darker the wine will be.
In real life and in “celebrity” land, there are many decent and unique vintages, New World and European, that you can discover at a local wine shop or even at a big box store for the same price, or less, than you’d shell out ordering a WBW wine–and you don’t have to pay shipping and handling. Or repress the toss a glass of liquid at someone. Many wine dealers also offer wine of the month clubs with experienced wine experts making the selections–at competitive prices.
Along with selling wine and gift baskets, Wines by Wives showcases a risible wine “art” glass collection, very classy-with-a-K, and suggests you’ll be thrilled with their signature tee shirts. But hey, it’s for a good cause, after all, this is the only celebrity wine club that donates a portion of the proceeds to charity, right?
While Gunvalson has designated “the Long Beach Battered Women’s Shelter” as her charity, there is no actual “Long Beach Battered Women’s Shelter.” She’s probably confused by the name: A Google search of teh phrase does turn up WomenShelter of Long Beach, founded in 1977, which confirmed to me that they had received a Wines By Wives donation of $136.50 in 2012 and another of $500 on October 2nd of this year. Wow, net proceeds in a very round number that show Vicki’s portion of Wine by Wives has almost quadrupled in sales! You go, girl! And while you’re at it, pick me guys!
WBW co-founder Barney has not named a specific breast cancer charity. Two of the other “celebrities” have designated Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation and “autism” as their charities; the remaining five have yet to declare which organization will get a portion of the net proceeds. The charity page on Wines by Wives.com is “coming soon“, though articles and blogsites show Wines by Wives busy in April of 2012, and their blog says they sponsored an Oscar party for OK! magazine in February 2013. You’d think if charity were part of your marketing plan, you’d have the names of the charities and links on the website right away, and the “celebrities” supporting them would actually know the names of the organizations which they are supporting. Ladies, and I use that term loosely, it’s been eighteen months. Before I get sloshed on overpriced, non-vintage vino, I wanna know who’s getting the 10% of net profits.
I can hear the siren songs of the Wine by Wives women now, telling me to chillax and have another slug of one of their real house wines.
Self-described “Power Mom” Liz Gaspari tells us that she can have it all, so maybe you can get close with bottles stashed in your desk for a quick nip.
I know how to mix it up and build a empire. But like most its nice to wind down with a great glass of wine and relax because there is always a round two. Lets start our round two together with the next big thing, Wines By Wives flagship red and white wine, right from the coast of California to your front door or maybe right to your office, why wait :).
Because even if your life isn’t fabulous enough to be a reality show or even a website, you know that you deserve a belt of $4.99 non-vintage Spanish rosé with a $13.00 mark up (plus shipping and handling).
HT: Huffington Post