Wine Country Family Closing In On $1 Million Raised For Heart Charities | NBC Bay Area
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Wine Country Family Closing In On $1 Million Raised For Heart Charities

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When life handed the Groom family a setback, they made wine. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016)

Taking the best the world can give, and making it even better.

It's what great winemakers do. And Daryl Groom, everyone seems to agree, is a great winemaker.

Making the best out of something bad, however, is something that Groom, and his wife, Lisa, appear to be masters of as well. The bad in this case: their son Colby's aortic valve.

Daryl Groom has more than thirty years wine-making experience. He and his wife, Lisa, are blending the latest vintage of Colby Red. Proceeds from the sale of the wine, named after their son, are donated to heart-related charities.

When he was born in 1998, doctors detected a murmur in Colby's heart. It wasn't until a few years later that the severity of the situation became clear.

"We always knew he'd have to have an open heart surgery," Daryl Groom said. "Eventually, it was just a matter of when," Lisa Groom said.

The surgery came when Colby was eight-years-old. Unfortunately the surgery didn't work and Colby went under for a second open heart surgery just months later.

Colby, born in 1998, was diagnosed with a defective aortic valve. He underwent two open heart surgeries before the age of 10.

"Colby really had to face his own mortality," Lisa Groom said. "You know, it kind of burst his childhood bubble."

Ten years later, and Daryl now pours almost all of his wine-making talents into a single wine: Colby Red.

Proceeds from the sale of Colby Red go to heart disease related charities and, in just its fifth year in production, the Grooms are closing in one million dollars raised.

Colby proposed the idea of making a wine with his father when he was 11. He wanted to raise money for the organizations that made it possible for him to survive his ordeal. Their first year making Colby Red, Daryl and Colby made just 2 barrels and raised $500.

"Annual sales, about 25,000 cases. So that's pretty amazing," Lisa Groom said.

And that, believe it or not, is not even the best part of the Colby Red story. The best part is that it was all Colby's idea.

"I wanted to give back to the community that saved my life," said Colby, now and 18-year-old high school senior.

"Colby comes in one day, he's 11 years of age, and he says, 'Dad, Dad, Dad. Can we make a wine together?'" Daryl Groom said.

Colby says he was so grateful to have survived his ordeal, he wanted to help others do the same.

Over the five years the Groom family has been making and selling Colby Red, they have raised and donated close to $1 million.

That first year, 2011, Daryl and Colby worked together to make two barrels of Colby Red wine and raised $500 selling it to friends. It was just the start of something big, and getting bigger.

"Sometimes I say it spiraled out of control, but in a good way," Colby Groom said. "I am so proud of it everyday for what it's become and what I'm able to do for others."

Colby is now a regular speaker at charitable events across the country, donating proceeds from Colby Red sales and sharing his survivor story.

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