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Best Friends would like to propose a toast to the Vicktory dogs – and with just the right spirit, thanks to the launch of the Vicktory Dog Wine Collection.
The Dog Lovers Wine Club has teamed with Best Friends to create the signature wine series – a special two-case collection celebrating the 22 dogs who were rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting operation and who now live at Best Friends.
Ten percent of all sales from the Vicktory Dog Wine Collection will benefit Best Friends by funding community programs such as legislative campaigns to end dog fighting and combating breed-specific legislation.
The wine bottles themselves could stand alone as fine art sculptures. Artist Cyrus Mejia, one of the Best Friends founders, painted portraits of each of the dogs for the labels.
Long before the wine launch, Cyrus had been busy painting the Vicktory dogs for his latest art project, Pits and Perception, a collection of larger-than-life portraits of pit bulls. Creation of the wine labels grew out of that undertaking.
With each Vicktory Dog Wine Collection, Cyrus includes an insert explaining Pits and Perception.
“The idea behind this project is to have people confront their fears and perceptions on these dogs,” he says. “When I was a kid, Dobermans were considered dangerous. Now it’s pit bulls. I thought that if perceptions can change one way, maybe they could change back. This is my way of artistically trying to change the way people have come to think about pit bulls.”
During an informal art exhibit held recently at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Cyrus displayed 10 small studies of the Vicktory dogs. When Best Friends cause marketing manager Vicki Kilmer-Rinker viewed the exhibition, she came up with an idea to further challenge common perceptions about pit bulls: Why not feature the smiling, happy faces of Cyrus’ Vicktory dog portraits on a feel-good item like a wine bottle?
“Dog Lovers Wine Club had contacted me with the concept of doing a special-edition wine collection as a tribute to the Vicktory dogs,” Vicki says. “When I saw Cyrus’ amazing art exhibit, I knew this would be a great opportunity to blend two art forms together, with the goal of increasing awareness of the true nature of this breed and showcasing the rehabilitative work that Best Friends does every day.”
Carivintas Winery created the special wines for the Vicktory Dog Wine Collection as well as all other Dog Lovers Wine Club offerings. Philanthropy plays as important a role in the winery’s business plan as product creation, marketing and selling. Even its name – Carivintas – defines this marriage of missions. The Latin “Caritas” is synonymous with philanthropy and charity, while “vin” is French for wine. Matt Hahn, one of the winery’s owners, notes that the Vicktory Dog Wine Collection fits well with the intention of promoting the optimistic and inspirational aspects of their partnering nonprofit groups.
“We want to benefit any nonprofit organization that’s focusing on the positive aspects of their work,” he says. “That’s why we support Best Friends.
“And that’s why Cyrus’ art works so well with this series; all the portraits on the labels are bright and cheery. Considering all the terrible things these dogs have been through and what’s happening with them now, well, it’s a much happier story now. And Cyrus really captures their spirits.”
Proceeds from all Vicktory Dog Wine Collection sales will benefit Best Friends. Cyrus’ original paintings and prints of the Vicktory dogs are also for sale, with proceeds benefiting Best Friends.
Written by Amy Abern
Images by Cyrus Mejia