Winemakers bottle up help in cancer fight

SPECIAL SERVE: Mount Langi Ghiran's chief winemaker Adam Louder and Mitchell Harris' John Harris are keen to offer bottles to boost international cancer research in Ballarat. Picture: Lachlan Bence
SPECIAL SERVE: Mount Langi Ghiran's chief winemaker Adam Louder and Mitchell Harris' John Harris are keen to offer bottles to boost international cancer research in Ballarat. Picture: Lachlan Bence

THERE IS no "out of the woods" for Daniel Redman's young son, at least for the foreseeable future.

While fit and healthy now, a couple of years ago Jock was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare cancer that damages tissue and causes lesions to form on the body. Jock was two years old.

He will likely need testing his whole childhood to monitor the cancer, should it return.

The Redmans, who live just over the South Australian border, stumbled upon Ballarat's Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute and found a way they could help tackle the disease with what they know best - wine.

FECRI will host an online wine auction this month in a bid to boost the institute's international cancer work, which receives no government grants. The institute's usual fundraising efforts have been suspended amid the pandemic but researchers' work has continued.

Redman wines have been based in the Coonawarra region, South Australia, about half an hour past Casterton, for more than a century.

Mr Redman and wife Meg had been looking for ways they could help the fight against cancer and could only find FECRI for specialised work on LCH in Australia. The fact it was also a regional institute was a bonus for the Redmans, who hoped to visit once pandemic restrictions were lifted.

The Redmans rallied other winegrowers in their region to donate as did Mount Langi Ghiran viticulturalist Damien Sheehan, in Victoria's Grampians. A donation from all bottles sold in this year's Grampians Winemakers Reserve Shiraz, a blend from the region's wineries' best Shiraz, will also boost FECRI.

Mr Sheehan said the Rathbone family, which owns Mount Langi Ghiran, had long been involved in fundraising for cancer research and treatment after their son died with a tumour.

In Ballarat, John Harris from Mitchell Harris Wines no matter how hard the hospitality and wine industries had been hit by COVID-19 lockdowns, helping cancer research was vital.

"None of us are unaffected by cancer whether directly through a family member, friends or our own health issues," Mr Harris said. In a climate with more cutbacks on funding, this work is essential to keep going."

FECRI will open the online auction on Friday, July 10, via its website fecri.org.au, with bidding to remain open until July 23. Successful bidders will have their bottles delivered free within a 20-kilometre radius from central Ballarat and collection or postage options.

Key areas of FECRI study include immune system response in rare cancer and leukaemia and cell subsets in histiocytosis disorders.

This story Love wine? Time to get bidding for a cause first appeared on The Courier.