Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Capturing Hope in a Bottle

It's magic!

Ever wonder how those model ships get into the bottles?

Sometimes knowing how something is done spoils the magic and wonderment of the finished product.

Sometimes it's best to just simply enjoy the magic as it unfolds.

And that's how I feel about Prairie Thunder, the latest organic wine created by Missoula, Montana's Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery. Andy Sponseller and Connie Pouten, Ten Spoon's masterful magicians (owners), have not only placed the most magnificent red wine in each bottle, but they've managed to encapsulate the very essence of hope for North America's grizzly bear population within that same space.

The grizzly habitat is one filled with wildflowers, berries, vast landscapes of trees, fresh air, clear running water, and the aroma of western wilderness. Within each bottle of Prairie Thunder, Ten Spoon captures the unique qualities of these elements.

"Prairie Thunder is a blend of Petite Syrah and Zinfendal grapes grown at Redwood Valley Vineyard in Mendocino County. Aromas of raspberry and dried cranberry radiate to the nose, with just a hint of violet and Kirsch. This wine is rich and smooth. The fresh crisp flavors of Bing cherry, brambleberry and raspberry fill the palate and are rounded out with notes of plum pepper, Nutella and spice," writes Kate Murphy of the Missoulian.

With each purchase of Prairie Thunder, Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery will donate $1.oo to The Vital Ground Foundation. Kudos to Andy and Connie for their dedication and commitment to protecting North America's grizzly habitat through their continued support of Vital Ground.

From the Vital Ground web site: "The Vital Ground Foundation is a wildlife organization whose mission is to protect and restore North America's grizzly bear populations by conserving wildlife habitat. While preserving the areas where grizzlies roam is the focus of Vital Ground, the positive impact of their work goes well beyond saving a single species.

Operating as a land trust, Vital Ground believes that the grizzly bear, as an umbrella species, is nature's barometer of a healthy and complete ecosystem. Because the grizzly's range covers several hundred square miles - from alpine meadows to valley bottoms - protecting grizzly habitat protects entire plant and animal communities in the most wildest, most scenic places left on the continent. Human communities will also be healthier, as protecting and restoring natural areas is critical to the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat."

Founded by Doug and Lynne Seus, trainers of Bart the Bear, Little Bart, Honey Bump, and Tank -- 4 grizzlies adopted by Doug and Lynne -- The Vital Ground Foundation thrives as a living memorial to Bart, the Seuses first bear cub and loving companion for 23 years. Born into captivity, Bart never experienced the call of the wild like his nature born ancestors. But each time Doug and Lynne took Bart out into the fresh open wilderness, the mission of preserving Bart's ancestor's habitat grew in their hearts.

In 1990, with their own money, the Seuses purchased the first acres of land to be protected under the newly formed Vital Ground Foundation. Eighteen years later, that original 240 acre seed has grown into a harvest of more than 417, 000 acres of protected grizzly habitat in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada. Included in the protection of those 417, 000 acres of grizzly habitat is the protection of all of the other wildlife and plant life contained within those boundaries as well.

Many of us remember Bart's amazing performances in such movies as The Edge, Legends of the Fall, and The Bear; however, Bart's true legacy is not his performance on the screen, but his ability to reach beyond the barriers of language. His true legacy began with his ability to teach Doug and Lynne Seus about his species. Bart's legacy as a teacher, ambassador, and inspiration grows with each acre of grizzly habitat protected from development.

As Lynne Seus has said, "Where the grizzly can walk, the earth is healthy and whole."

So the next time you think about the quality of air you breathe or the water you drink or the food you eat, think of Bart.

To learn more about The Vital Ground Foundation, the importance of grizzly bears to our ecosystem, or how you can become a member of Bart's legacy, visit

To learn more about Bart the Bear, Little Bart, Honey Bump, and Tank visit

To learn more about Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery or how to purchase cases of Prairie Thunder (yes, cases -- you'll want to! single bottles are available, too), visit

If you are in need of a special wine for your Easter table or a hostess gift that can spark conversation or are simply in the mood for a nice red wine to complete your day, pick up a bottle or two of Prairie Thunder and toast to Bart.

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