Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Winery, Land Trust Partner to Protect Wildlife Habitat, Open Space

As a member of both the Board of Advisors and the Development Committee for The Vital Ground Foundation, I am happy to publish this wonderful news. Today's press release provides an excellent example of how nonprofit organization and for profit companies can work together toward a common goal.

MISSOULA, MT — Ten Spoon Vineyard + Winery and the nonprofit Vital Ground Foundation today announced a new partnership to benefit wildlife habitat and open space values in Montana and the Northern Rockies. Ten Spoon will donate one dollar to the Missoula-based land trust for every bottle of its Prairie Thunder organic red wine sold.

“This is a very generous offer Ten Spoon has extended to us,” says Vital Ground’s executive director Gary Wolfe. “We’re pleased to be involved with a company that not only offers outstanding products, but is truly committed to protecting the landscapes and wildlife we all love.”

Vital Ground recently made regional news with a 2007 report documenting its work in western Montana’s Swan Valley, where the group permanently protected nearly 600 acres of privately owned wildlands that year adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The protected areas are important corridors for rambling grizzly bears and winter range for elk.

Andy Sponseller and Connie Poten, Ten Spoon’s owners, are themselves no strangers to conservation.

In the early 1990’s, Sponseller helped found Save Open Space, now renamed Rattlesnake Land Trust. SOS’s first project was the Waterworks Hill Conservation Easement negotiated with the Peschel family. It put more than 100 acres on the hills north of Interstate 90 off limits to development. Connie Poten originally purchased the pastureland where the vineyard and winery now reside in 1991 to protect it from development.

“For us, supporting Vital Ground through sales of Prairie Thunder just makes sense,” says Sponseller. “Connie and I both have worked to protect open space and habitat values. Vital Ground is out there doing it every day. We appreciate that and we want to be part of the effort.”

Poten and Sponseller planted their first grapes in 1998, built the winery in 2000 and launched the first commercial wine sales in 2003. Montana-grown, certified organic grapes and fruit make up 65% of Ten Spoon’s production. The remainder comes from certified organic family vineyards and orchards in Washington, Oregon and northern California.

A special blend of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel grapes grown at Redwood Valley Vineyard in Mendocino County, Prairie Thunder offers the silky, rich flavors of dark cherry, coffee and chocolate on a berry field, with a hint of strawberry splashing through. No sulfites are added to any Ten Spoon wines. Prairie Thunder is available in retail shops across the state of Montana. A list of shops can be found on the winery’s website. The winery also ships wine by FedEx Ground to other states.

Visit, email, or phone the winery at (406) 549-8703 for more information.

Since its founding in 1990, Vital Ground has helped to protect and enhance more than 417,000 acres of habitat crucial for grizzly and other wildlife in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, and British Columbia. Vital Ground’s headquarters is in the Heritage Hall building in the Fort Missoula Historical District. To learn more or to make a donation, visit or call (406) 549-8650.

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