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Rush’s Geddy Lee Mixes Wine With Charity

Geddy Lee
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

It’s true that Rush loves their beer, as detailed in one of their past tour riders. But for singer/bassist Geddy Lee, it’s his love of wine that’s opened a brand new door for him.

Lee says that his love of wine has led him to serve on the Grapes for Humanity Global Foundation and he’s proud to reveal that the international charity has raised over $4 million via wine-related fundraisers.

The organization began in 2001 with the idea to support landmine victims as founder Arlene Willis lost her brother in a landmine accident. After starting by helping to build prosthetic clinics and aiding those with welfare issues, the organization continued to grow in their philanthropic efforts.

Lee tells Samaritan Mag (via Noisecreep), “I was very drawn to it because we did small projects. If we raised $50,000, we’d go to Honduras, build a clinic, and you saw the direct result of that money in action. And that’s something, to me, that makes you feel really good because you know there’s no waste there.”

The singer says he and Rush bandmate Alex Lifeson have hosted ‘Excellent Adventures’ silent auctions that include wine excursions as part of the package. He explains, “We organized these train trips to the wine country. We get the generous help of a local winery. The first time we did it was in Niagara and Moray Tawse of Tawse Winery offered up this place. We bring people from the city, get a private car through the generous help of VIA Rail, and we take a train up to the winery. We spend the afternoon picking grapes, learning how that particular bit of cultural area operates, and have a fantastic lunch out at the vineyard.”

Tying in the Rush theme, the 2009 “Grapes Under Pressure” event raised $37,500, while 2011′s event moved to the Huff Estate Winery in Broomfield, Prince Edward County with 60 wine lovers taking part. In all, the trips combined with the Rush memorabilia offered at the silent auctions have raised over $350,000 for Grapes for Humanity Canada.

Lee says that even though his band priorities are about to take over, he’ll still try to be available for the organization where possible. He adds, “I’ve tried to help them as much as I can in the time I have. It’s a really good group of people who all have a really good heart and try to do something good outside our own sphere of civilization. We’ve raised a good amount of money for a couple of different causes, so I’d like to continue helping them.”

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