by Michele Nielsen ’99
Good things can come when you share a wonderful meal and equally fine wines with others. Vintage Johnston grew out of that very idea.
Years ago, Professor Emeritus of English Bill McDonald met John Slater, fine wine consultant for the Henry Wine Group, over a particular type of Vitis vinifera—pinot noir to be specific. They both enjoyed the complexities of pinot through a local Redlands wine club and as their friendship grew, McDonald discovered Slater was a connoisseur and collector.
Slater learned of the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at Redlands through McDonald, who introduced Slater to several Johnston students and faculty. Slater quickly became engaged with the Center and proposed using wines “for a good purpose” by creating Vintage Johnston.
The annual event, a wine tasting and dinner featuring an auction of celebrated labels, is the perfect venue for his philanthropy, since the proceeds from the sale of wines he provides at the event directly benefit the Johnston Student Project Fund. For his part, Slater enjoys sharing his passion for the culture and history of wine with attendees.
Slater says he was motivated to give back by the words of his grandfather William Kenny, who taught him from a young age that giving back is an important part of being involved in your greater community. “He had a saying that stuck with me,” says Slater. “‘It’s hard to dislike someone you share a meal and a bottle of wine with!’” In that spirit, Slater carries on his family’s tradition.
One of the things Slater most enjoys about Vintage Johnston is hearing the young alumni speakers share stories of the projects and initiatives—ranging from music projects to art exhibits—they have carried out as a result of funding they received through the Project Fund, all made possible by Vintage Johnston.
Join Slater and his wife, Christa, a school teacher, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of this terrific collaboration on October 8, 2016. This year, a special table for young alumni will posthumously honor Gene Ouellette, former chancellor of Johnston College.