OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) – OKC’s biggest wine, spirits and food event of the year isn’t happening in a bar or restaurant at all.
In 2009, Thirst Wine Merchants, one of the state’s most respected and savvy independent craft wine and spirits wholesalers, launched the Thirst for a Cause event, featuring dozens of producers, hundreds of wines and many portioned bites from some of OKC’s best restaurants.
Stemming from their annual industry-only trade tasting, Thirst for a Cause took shape as a way to raise money for a fund in the Oklahoma Home Foundation intended to cover the medical expenses of the workers of the industry and at the same time to reinforce the wine culture of the city.
Inviting the public to meet producers from across the country (sometimes the world) and taste some of the best wines imaginable alongside friends and professionals, the event was a huge success and quickly rose to the top of the the mountain of annual wines. wine events at OKC.
“Every year it grew and grew a little more,” said Alex Kroblin, founder and managing partner of Thirst. “It grew very organically into something that, perhaps more than anything we do, has been really rewarding.”
The event ran with growing interest and success every year through 2019, but was unsurprisingly absent in 2020, then canceled in 2021 for just three weeks due to the worrying rise of Omicron.
But next week, Wednesday August 24, will finally see the return of Thirst for a Cause as the team, led by Kroblin, prepares for the triumphant reintroduction of OKC’s favorite libation celebration.
Favorites and Beginners
The wine and spirits industry has changed dramatically in the three years since the last Thirst for a Cause, not only due to the ongoing pandemic and changing consumer demographics, but also to a number of devastating fires in America’s largest wine regions. For Thirst, that means plenty of new additions to the portfolio — and event tasting options — to go along with the many fan-favorite selections.
Some of the most exciting new additions attendees will get to sample include:
Wade Cellars: Created by, and even personally overseen by, NBA superstar Dwayne Wade, Wade Cellars’ offerings stand well above most other celebrity-owned wines, thanks in part to the mentorship and involvement of the famed Napa winemaker, Jayson Pahlmeyer.
Pride Mountain Vineyards: One of California’s Spring Mountain region’s most iconic wine producers, Pride will debut Thirst for a Cause this year, having only recently been acquired by Thirst. Their rich, European-style wines are perfect for drinking in the fall.
Conclusion Wines: A limited-production family business based in Napa and Sonoma, Conclusion is also a local affair, co-founded by Oklahomans Lisa and Piyush Patel. The brand has pledged proceeds from all bottles sold in 2022 to OKC’s Positive Tomorrows, an elementary school for city children facing homelessness.
Barrell Craft Spirits: One of the most exciting and anticipated changes to this year’s event is the inclusion of a wide range of spirits, and arguably no producer has connoisseurs salivating like Barrell. The incomparable limited-edition bourbon blenders have won countless awards and “best ofs,” and are rumored to be bringing some of their most acclaimed blends to event patrons this year.
Wander Folk Spirits: Oklahoma’s rising star liquor producer Guthrie’s WanderFolk is another recent addition to the Thirst portfolio debuting with Thirst for a Cause. They will be bringing selections from their inimitable range of offerings which includes the fantastic Same Old Moses bourbon and its many cask-finished expressions as well as the Garden Club range of floral and lemony gins.
Thirst for a Cause’s first ideas came like a lark of sorts in the run-up to the 2009 episode of Thirst Day, the industry’s annual wholesaler profile tasting when Kroblin was informed of the worrying rise medical bills from a respected restaurant employee.
“I said ‘hey, I have an idea,'” Kroblin explained. “How about we organize a fundraiser? I already have twenty-five cellars, I have the room rented, I have the tables, the glassware, the winegrowers themselves will be there. People just had to buy tickets.
With the success of this first year, the event has continued to support funding for medical and emergency care within the state’s hospitality industry through their partnership with the Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation. As the “philanthropic arm” of the OK Restaurant Association, the Foundation seeks to fund culinary education, awareness, and financial assistance for industry workers statewide.
Over the years, the Thirst for a Cause event has raised over $200,000 for the Foundation.
“It’s really good,” Kroblin said. “We’re just trying to really raise awareness that this fund exists for restaurant workers who need it.”
Thirst for a Cause 2022 is scheduled for Wednesday, August 24. Tickets are on sale now at soifforacause.com, along with a full list of participating producers and restaurants.
Last updated on August 18, 2022 at 8:58 p.m. by Brett’s Camp