There’s drinking to forget problems—and then, there’s drinking to address them.
That’s the idea behind Proud Pour, a local company that was dreamt up by founder Berlin Kelly about two and a half years ago.
The California native was always big on giving back, and she’d noted the success of one-for-one brands like TOMS Shoes that support those in need with each purchase a customer makes. Why, she wondered, couldn’t a bottle of wine do the same thing?
She was living in New York at the time, where she says on average people spend $11 million on alcohol each night. Kelly would later relocate to the Boston Metro area, where that figure is $7.5 million a night.
“I was kind of like, ‘This is it?'” Kelly asks. “Our wine should be more interesting. There should be a reason we’re drinking this besides just to have a drink.”
“People say there will be no more fish by the year 2050,” she adds, chuckling wryly. “Like, shit’s not good.”
Understanding that people are busy, and that they don’t know how they can combat seemingly unstoppable problems like global warming or deforestation, Kelly wanted to give people an easy way to help. Her idea was to debut a beverage that made real, tangible changes with each bottle purchased—a cider helped the company plant apple trees with every bottle, or a rosé that planted rose bushes.
It was during that time that she heard about Billion Oyster Project, a program that’s working to restore—you guessed it—a billion oysters to the New York Harbor. Inspired by their cause, she joined forces with Billion Oyster Project and other environmental groups that want to support oyster populations, including New England organizations like the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group and the Massachusetts Oyster Project and debuted Proud Pour’s first wine, The Oyster, last fall.
Each bottle of The Oyster restores 100 wild oysters, and the wine itself is sustainably grown and vegan friendly. Conveniently, it also pairs well with oysters, as well as other shellfish and seafood. And Kelly jokes that if you’re anything like her and aren’t always able to afford oysters, it goes well with plenty of other dishes.
“It’s a friendly, easy-drinking wine,” Kelly says. “I’ve referred to it as the golden retriever of wines, because everybody likes it.”
Proud Pour’s next project—a pinot noir that will save bee species—will debut early next year, and each bottle of pinot will plant 875 wildflowers.
And Kelly says Proud Pour’s mission won’t end with wine.
“I would love to launch all sort of things—a beer for the beavers, a whiskey for wolves, a tequila for bats—the idea being to help all these keystone species,” she laughs. “But those aren’t available yet.”
Proud Pour is available at Liquor World, Cambridge Spirits, Hops Test Kitchen and other locations throughout Cambridge.