Winemaking is one of the world’s oldest arts, spanning thousands of years. This has evolved into an industry that fuels destination travel, wedding venues and lively dinner conversation. Now, we can add sustainable practices to that list of accomplishments with a new line of wines by Proud Pour, whose aim is to inspire the environmentalist in everyone, even those who simply want to enjoy a pleasant glass of wine.

person holding two bottles of wine

Proud Pour began in New York City in 2014 when founder Berlin Kelly realized wine could be an avenue for environmental improvements. “I was living in NYC and drinking almost every night with my friends when I learned that NY Harbor has lost 95% of their wild oysters,” Kelly explained. “I launched Proud Pour wines to raise money for NYC oyster restoration with the Billion Oyster Project, our first environmental partner.”

Related: The differences between organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainable wines

person observing wild oysters

It’s easy to be inspired to save oysters and their habitat, because they are a critical filter for the oceans. In fact, a single oyster cleans 30 gallons of ocean water each day. To bring the project full circle, Proud Pour produces a Sauvignon Blanc labeled “Save the Ocean” (as in Save-ignon). Each bottle funds restoration efforts for 100 wild oysters. Efforts so far have provided restored habitats for 12 million wild oysters.

two bottles of white wine on weathered wood table

A second offering from the company focuses on bee health. “Pinot for Bees” is a Pinot Noir that highlights the need for providing bee habitat. As the print on the bottle explains, “Every bottle plants 300 wildflowers,” which is equivalent to 35 square feet of prime bee habitat. Because bees are credited with providing one out of every three bites of food we eat, it’s great to see the company report that wine-lovers have already funded the planting of 75 acres of wildflowers.

red wine bottle near meadow of wildflowers

The third current selection is labeled, “Rosé for Reefs,” a rosé aimed at educating wine-lovers about the importance of coral reefs. According to the bottle, “Coral reefs cover just 1% of the ocean floor but support 25% of all marine life.” With that in mind, each three cases of this wine results in one new baby coral planting. To date, the company has funded the growth and planting of 112 baby corals.

For those with a different palette and passion for sea turtles, Proud Pour produces a cider made from Connecticut River Valley apples. Like all of its products, Proud Pour’s Cider for Sea Turtles is sustainably grown and vegan. Proceeds from the cider fund the work at sea turtle hospitals that rescue and care for injured sea turtles so they can return to the ocean.

Proud Pour CEO Brian and founder Berlin sitting at table with two bottles of their company's wine

The adventure that is Proud Pour is the result of a two-person show that includes Berlin Kelly, founder, and Brian Thurber, CEO. Thurber came on board in 2015, the same year the wine began hitting the store shelves. Even though just the two of them run the company, they rely on a host of partners to bring the project from grape to nonprofit funding. The process begins by connecting with high quality, sustainable winemakers in Oregon and California. On the other end of the process, they rely on nonprofits who work to protect bees, wild oysters, sea turtles and coral reefs, with more missions on the radar. Thurber told Inhabitat, “Up next are Grenache for Gray Wolves, Chardonnay for Sharks, and Syrah for Soil.”

While myriad companies have joined 1% For the Planet as a way to give 1% of their net profits to environmental causes, Proud Pour has pledged a larger commitment. Proud Pour donates 5% of its top-line revenue, meaning the donation amount is calculated from the revenue, not the amount leftover after everyone gets paid. Proceeds are delivered to 22 environmental nonprofits across the U.S. Six years into the enterprise, the wines can be found in over 700 shops and restaurants in 18 states. That means there are more than 700 opportunities to spread the word about the environment and sustainable actions.

“We’re making Proud Pour into the ultimate tool for recruiting new environmentalists,” Thurber said. “Our fans already use the wines as a casual way to talk about the environment with friends, and we’ll be building new storytelling tools to make those conversations a snap.”

red wine, white wine and rose packed in cardboard box

The current wines can be found online with shipping to 43 states. Each order is sustainably packaged with carbon-neutral shipping. Cider For Sea Turtles is only available in stores. While sale proceeds help restore invaluable ecosystems, the overall vision of Proud Pour is to facilitate conversations about the environment with a goal to create 5 million new environmentalists over the next decade. It seems like a reasonable discussion to have over a glass of wine.

three bottles of wine and two wine glasses on a table

Inhabitat’s review of Proud Pour wines

Occasionally companies offer to send us product samples so we can provide you with a well-rounded perspective, and let me tell you, few have been more fun to sample than Proud Pour Wines. Reviewing wine is entirely subjective, so obviously this is my layman’s opinion.

The bottles are blanketed with the message of environmental awareness and it’s a beautiful thing — both informative and direct.

Save the Ocean, the Sauvignon Blanc, struck me as buttery with a hint of citrus. It’s got more punch than a chardonnay but is tame enough for easy drinking. I can see how it would pair well with oysters and other seafood.

Proud Pour Pinot for Bees wine next to wine glass on patio table

Pinot for the Bees was my personal favorite, considering I’m a red wine fan. Living in Oregon, I’m spoiled by Pinot Noir, so I wasn’t surprised to discover the wine was vinted and bottled a few hours from my house. I found the vintage to be light and smooth. Although it lacks the complexity of big reds, most Pinots do, so it’s not a strike, just more of a profile note. Speaking of notes, this is an easy drinker any time of year.

Rosé for Reefs is a light and crisp option. It’s not a sweet rosé but very quaffable with a gorgeous, medium-pink color. We added strawberries for a burst of fresh, late-summer flavor.

Overall, each wine was a solid option in its own right, and the printed bottle is a beautiful representation of what conversations around sustainable actions should look like. Cheers to that.

+ Proud Pour

Images via Proud Pour and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat

Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Proud Pour. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.