Warren and Barbara Winiarski and the Winiarski Family Foundation have made generous donations to many conservation and preservation efforts, including those of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the University of California Library at Davis, St. John's College, the Land Trust of Napa County, the Napa County Open Space District, Jack L. Davies Napa Valley Agricultural Preservation Fund, If Given A Chance, The Pathway Home, among other organizations.
1996 Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s American Food & Wine History Project
Warren and Barbara Winiarski initiated and provided generous support for an oral history and documentation project on winemaking in the 20th century. The project uses food and wine history as a lens for understanding American history and tracing the long and diverse history of wine in the United States.
In 1996, Winiarski initiated and lectured at a seminar at the Red, White and American symposium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on the 20th Anniversary of the Judgment of Paris. The symposium, much like the Paris tasting 20 years earlier, was a milestone in the history of American wine because it marked recognition of wine as part of American culture at the National Institution level.
National Museum of American History Division of Work and Industry Curator, Paula Johnson said, “Warren introduced us to the many dimensions of the history of California wine and winemaking. He helped us grasp the complexity of the story and understand the contributions of many people involved…it’s about more than what’s in the glass.”
Star-Spangled Banner Conservation
Over the years, the Winiarskis have donated significant funding to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for projects stretching outside food and wine. One particular contribution supported conservation of the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem that became our National Anthem. Key was a graduate of St. John’s College, which made the project deeply meaningful to the Winiarskis.
Winemakers Dinner at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
The Winiarski Family Foundation has donated significant funding to the Smithsonian for wine and food history research, collecting wine and food objects, programs, public events, as well as the annual Winemakers’ Dinners that support those efforts.
Since their inception in 2012, the annual Winemakers' Dinners continue to raise public awareness about American food and wine culture. In 2017, the program featured Mexican Americans from the California wine industry who shared their stories of working, creating communities, and building their own winemaking businesses in Napa and Sonoma. As a mentor to a number of Napa Valley Mexican-American winemaking families, Winiarski is proud to know the winemakers’ oral histories are now part of the museum’s permanent collection.
“Uncorking American history through the lens of wine reveals the joyous complexity of the American experience,” said John Gray, former director of the museum. “The stories of these winemakers touch on so many facets of American history: business and entrepreneurship, economic and labor history, immigration and migration, and the California food revolution.”
The funds raised from the annual Winemakers’ Dinner have helped support research, collecting, exhibitions and programs of the American Food & Wine History Project at the National Museum of American History. For the future, Winiarski has proposed endowing a permanent position at the Smithsonian for continuing to enhance and grow the American Food & Wine History Project overtime.
UC Davis Wine Writer Collections
The Winiarski Family Foundation established a $3.3 million endowment to support the University of California Davis Peter J. Shields Library to develop and build the most comprehensive collection of wine writers’ papers in the world.
With this gift, the Library will grow its collection of storytellers who influence both the wine industry and public appreciation of wine, making these pieces accessible to a global audience.
Broadly defined, wine writers include wine book authors, editors, wine journalists and critics, wine columnists, bloggers, and other editorial wine content creators. The foundational collections include the papers of Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, Charles Sullivan, and Bob Thompson. As it grows, this collection will provide a unique vantage point on the history of wine in California, America and beyond.
Wine writers are the storytellers who shine a light on the people and places in wine culture, industry, and science—moving beyond regions, varieties of wine, and ratings to influence the aspirations, choices, and styles of winemaking and grape growing. They offer unique and panoptic insights into what made the wine industry what it is today. Just as important as new technologies and scientific breakthroughs, the richer understanding afforded by wine writers has the potential to sustain excellence in winemaking and wine appreciation.
The importance of an influx of vocabulary into the winemakers’ vernacular cannot be overstated. Winiarski credits wine writers, especially those from Great Britain — which was considered to be a relatively neutral wine-producing country — with helping to make the vocabulary winemakers needed to accurately and adequately aspire to produce great wines.
In addition to the gift, Warren established and endowed the Warren Winiarski Wine Writer Collection Fellow, a two-year appointment responsible for curating, managing, and promoting the library’s wine writer collections. The position affords an opportunity to connect the collections to new users and new research.
Dedicated to preserving the heritage of wine and its international cultural importance, Winiarski envisions that the works preserved through the endowment will help illuminate the way forward to the continued elevation of wine quality throughout the world's wine producing regions.
St. John’s College
Alumni of the college, Warren and Barbara Winiarski have been significant donors to St. John's College in Annapolis and Santa Fe. They provided the principal project funding through a capital campaign completed in 2008, to build on the Santa Fe campus what is now known as the Winiarski Student Center. Opened in 2012, the Winiarski Student Center is comprised of five buildings in one complex and integrates dorm rooms, classrooms, faculty offices, and common areas. The complex was designed to join living with learning, and it provides enough dorm rooms to allow the majority of undergraduate students to live on campus.
In 2018, the Winiarski Family Foundation made a $50 million matching grant to St. John's College in Annapolis and Santa Fe to help bridge the gap between what it costs the college to educate a student and what the student pays in tuition. The grant allowed the two Colleges to lower annual student tuition costs by $17,000.
If Given A Chance
The If Given a Chance Foundation is a community service organization that helps to change the lives of courageous youth who have overcome tremendous challenges but have demonstrated a committed determination to stay on the right path through higher education. Students receive a financial award to be used towards four years of education in college or vocational school.