Leslie Frank of Napa Valley's Frank Family Vineyards wins wine industry philanthropy award
Lending help to others comes with winery ownership, says Leslie Frank, proprietor of Napa Valley's Frank Family Vineyards and winner of the philanthropy category of North Bay Business Journal's Wine, Beer + Spirits Industry Awards for 2019.
The Business Journal asked her what has driven her to give back to the community over the years.
Detail your background in the industry:
Before I joined the wine industry, I had a career in broadcast journalism. I spent more than twenty-five years covering politics, crime, natural disasters – you name it. Throughout my time as a reporter and anchor, I brought some of the country's most major events into the home of millions of Americans including the 9/11 attacks, reporting live from New York City's ground zero, as well as from the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and inside the courtroom at the Michael Jackson trial.
My travels as a journalist sparked my interest in wine, prompting my first visit to Napa Valley in the 1990s.
It was in Napa where I met my husband, Rich Frank, owner and founder of Frank Family Vineyards. Since 2012 when Rich and I got married, I have profoundly integrated myself in the California wine industry. I took classes at the Napa Valley Wine Academy and underwent the UC Davis Wine Executive Program to study the fundamentals of winemaking, fine tune my management skills, and learn ways to expand Frank Family's marketing and branding strategies.
Now, I am a proprietor of Frank Family Vineyards and spend my days working to elevate our brand and co-manage our staff of 50. I have applied what I know best – people and storytelling – and interweave them into my role at Frank Family Vineyards and in the community at large.
I am thankful for my previous career as a broadcast journalist for providing me with a mindset rich in culture and a personal long-term commitment to philanthropy that I will continue to share to raise the North Bay community to greater heights.
Describe the impact your company or you have had on the industry in the last five years:
As a successful winery business, I believe that we are in a fortunate position to play an important role in improving the lives of the people in the North Bay community and beyond. My passion for people and culture has naturally paved the way for my and Frank Family's positive involvement in the wine industry.
In the past five years, I have established footings among some of Napa Valley's most prominent charitable organizations such as Festival Napa Valley, Collabria Care, and Auction Napa Valley.
I found a natural fit as a board member of Festival Napa Valley, a fusion of art, wine, and culture set amongst some of Napa Valley's most stunning winery and vineyard backdrops. Festival Napa Valley does so much for the Napa community whether raising much-needed funds for education through the Arts for All Gala, supporting aspiring musicians via the tuition-free Blackburn Music Academy, shining a spotlight on emerging artists, or igniting creativity at Arts for All Camps.
Across the years, the program has donated over $1 million to Napa County's public-school arts education programs. I co-chaired the 2019 Arts for All Gala, which raised a record-setting $2.6 million for the nonprofit.
This September, Rich and I were also privileged to be named the honorary chairs of this year's 13th annual Collabria Care Gala.
Collabria Care is the leading center for community-based care and resources in the North Bay for those facing transitions of aging, Alzheimer's disease and other serious illnesses, or the end of life.
In our roles as honorary chairs, we served as ambassadors for the organization and the event and donated two high value lots to the live auction as well as 35 limited-edition 40th Anniversary Collabria Care etched magnums which raised $45,000. All in all, the evening was a tremendous success, setting a new gala record of over $740,000 for hospice, palliative, and Alzheimer's care, and a range of other services for the most seriously ill in the Napa Valley community.
Additionally, Frank Family Vineyards has extended our reach in the community and across the country through a series of annual fundraising campaigns.
In 2018, the Frank Family team and I raised $10,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through the winery's “Frank Drinks Pink” campaign.
This year, we created the “Frank Fights Hunger” campaign and are teaming up with the Feeding America Network throughout the month of November. During this campaign, we will be donating 10% of proceeds from each online purchase of the Carneros Pinot Noir to this amazing organization, which is equivalent to about 11 meals per bottle to children and families in need. Frank Family is also matching the final donation amount to make their impact that much greater