We’re all looking for balance in one way or another.  Our lives are skewed towards work related drama one day and family or friend issues the next.   Do you give up that family vacation to work on a huge project?  Do you make time to volunteer for a favorite charity?  Fortunately, I found one way to have balance yet it may not be what you think…I learned about an amazing wine by Sozo Friends which is exclusive to BOKA, a hip yet classic restaurant in Seattle and which is successfully ensconced at Hotel 1000, a luxury independent hotel which I can’t wait to visit.  The 2009 Sozo Balance won a Gold Award in the Rhone Blend Category at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competion and is one of the few private label wines to garner such acclaim.   But there is more.  Each bottle of wine sold helps people who are in poverty through providing meals, clean water, and for their basic needs thanks to the philanthropic mission of Sozo Friends.

sozo friends
The excitement about this wine was electric over the airways during my conference call with Martin Barrett, one of the owners of Sozo, Denny Fitzpatrick, General Manager of Hotel 1000, and Mi-Suk Ahn, Manager at BOKA and one of Seattle’s top mixologists.  All shared that this award is an incredible testament to the quality of the wine… a house brand!  A brilliant blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, and Petit Verdot, Balance has aromas and tastes of blueberries, blackberries with smooth tannins and acidity along with a price of $48 of which a portion is for charity.  But they also wanted to express that this wine was created in a real partnership which continues to have an important mission.  In Martin’s words, through this wine, they wanted “to honor our friends and those in need, to collectively express extreme hospitality”.   Sozo does not have a winery.  Instead it has a storage unit, an amazing winemaker, Cheryl Jones, who has created other award winning wines, and two owners with their hearts in the right place. The definition of “Sozo” is to save a suffering one from perishing.  To understand the true purpose of Sozo and their award winning wines, please look at their website in depth.

BOKA has included on their wine list a few of Soza’s other selections which happen to be medal recipients.   At the time, about a year or so ago, those at BOKA felt that they needed a private label wine and, in Denny’s words, “a really, really good bottle” which could be “good long term – not just an “event” wine”.  Jones created three blends which were offered to Martin, Denny, and four others during a blind tasting.  The participants agreed that they all needed to be in unanimous agreement as to the blend chosen as the house wine.  At the end, all six pointed to the same bottle…but Mi-Suk was busy at the restaurant and missed the event.  Once she finally arrived, she tasted and…pointed to the same bottle as had the others  – clearly a winner!

Desiring to include others in the journey, employees of BOKA and Hotel 1000 were asked to suggest the perfect name for the wine.  Ultimately, they chose “Balance” to reflect their company’s belief in a balance between work, family, friends, and the individual.  A former bartender designed the label and two hundred twenty cases were ordered…to rest until the optimal time arrived to offer to guests and send to the 2013 San Francisco Wine Chronicle Competition.  In the meantime, the Balance Awards were created whereby the spirit of giving and extreme hospitality were obvious.  Three Seattle charities, the Union Gospel Mission for the homeless, the Food Lifeline for the hungry, and the Medical Teams International for children, were honored .  $2500 was given to each organization thanks to Soza and their mission.

And now?  Mi-Suk shared that everyone is giddy about this wine and it’s selling…well, off the shelf! Feedback is fantastic and as guests depart they want more to take home!  The beautiful part of this story continues for when guests ask for a case or even a glass of the 2009 Balance at BOKA, they enjoy an award winning wine while helping those in need.  Yes,  Balance truly means “extreme hospitality”.

Cheers to good wine, giving back, and finding balance in whatever you do~ Cindy



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