In November 2000, Arlene Willis, Tony Aspler and Sam Sarick came up with the concept of a charitable foundation based on the love of wine. Arlene, an American citizen, living in Toronto, lost her brother to a landmine during the Viet Nam War in 1968. She wanted to honour his memory by creating a charity that assisted landmine victims.
Over the course of the next seven years, under Arlene’s leadership as President, Grapes for Humanity mounted a series of wine dinners and tasting events featuring the world’s leading wine producers – Beringer, Antinori, Frescobaldi, Torres, Mondavi, Louis Jadot, Remoissenet and Primum Familiae Vini (‘Leading Wine Families’).
In 2007 Arlene handed the reins over to Vice-President Tony Aspler who ran the organization for the next seven years. Arlene went on to concentrate on the sister charity, Grapes For Humanity (US) that grew into Grapes for Humanity Global.
In 2011, Liz Gallery and Cathy Martin started the UNCORKED series of events. They have been hugely successful, sold out wine tasting events raising money for Grapes for Humanity. There has been California UNCORKED, Australia UNCORKED, Chile UNCORKED, Italy UNCORKED, France UNCORKED, Spain UNCORKED and Burgundy UNCORKED. Liz and Cathy have traveled all over the world as Grapes For Humanity ambassadors visiting their charities and seeing the projects they have helped fund from the ground up. Other events include ‘The Great Toronto Tartar-Off’ and ‘Baah! The Great Lamby Cook-Off.’ The most popular, and lucrative, fund-raising events for Grapes for Humanity have been the biennial Grapes Under Pressure tours in which Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson lead a group of wine lovers by VIA Rail to an Ontario winery.
In December 2014, Doris Miculan Bradley was acclaimed at the annual general meeting as the new President and CEO of Grapes for Humanity Canada. Tony remains on the board as President Emeritus.