The Passion behind the Product
A passion for healthy eating and sustainability helped Andrew and Chris Cates turn a natural disaster into a thriving, socially conscious company.
Their journey began when the Cates family acquired Segassia Vineyard on Mt. Veeder in Napa, Calif., in 2013, a storied property that had been at various times a hog farm, a fruit and nut orchard, and a sustainable vineyard. A restored century-old farmhouse on the property became their home.
With three generations of organic farming in their history, the Cates were determined to take the vineyard further. So all farming was done by hand, water came from natural springs, and owl boxes, beehives, and cascades of ladybugs took the place of chemicals and weed-killers. And Segassia continued to grow as a respected source of grapes and wine.
Patriarch of the clan, Dr. Chris Cates, was a well-known cardiologist who routinely recommended red wine to his patients for its antioxidant advantages. One day, as he and his son Andrew were sampling grapes left on the vines after the harvest, they started toying with an idea: what if they could translate those “lost” grapes into a product that would offer the benefits of wine in a convenient form—and without the alcohol. “No grape left behind,” as Andrew puts it.
Thus was born Wine RayZyns. Chris’ passion for healthy eating and Andrew’s passion for sustainability found expression in a superfood snack that offers mega-doses of antioxidants and polyphenols in handy little handfuls.
Those passions were admirable, and the results impressive. But unforeseen events led the Cates to an even greater passion, and a heartfelt contribution to their community and beyond. It involved personal loss, rising up from the ashes (literally), and turning tragedy into triumph.
In the fall of 2017, wildfires raged through Segassia, obliterating the vineyards and razing the Cates’ home to the ground. Even in the midst of their own devastation, they looked outward; all around them, there were millions of dollars worth of grapes on the vine, no longer usable for wine-making and destined to be discarded. But the Cates had a way to save those grapes and make them into something even more potent. As Andrew realized, “We could take the byproduct of one disaster and create a shelf-stable superfood that could be used to help feed people in other disaster-struck areas.”
They partnered with The Food Recovery Network, a nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate food waste and feed the hungry, to create Rescue RayZyns. Made from unharvested wine grapes from throughout the fire-devastated region, Rescue RayZyns are intended to be distributed to victims of natural disasters, with additional proceeds going to firefighters’ organizations. “We want to be an example for other companies to join us in food waste awareness and how we can band together to feed hungry people in our communities,” Andrew explains.
Now that his home is no more, Andrew is going mobile for a while. He plans to travel the country in an RV wrapped in Rescue RayZyn designs, bringing his passion and his mission to as many people and places as possible. And so another journey begins, one that’s well worth taking. Wave if you see him!
Visit betternutrition.com for a recipe for RayZyn Herb-Crusted Cod, featuring RayZyn’s dried grapes.