by Bethany M. Dunbar
copyright the Chronicle 1-2-2013
CRAFTSBURY — The Toys for Tots box was looking a little sad. Craftsbury General Store owner Emily Maclure was searching for a way to encourage customers to bring in a toy to donate to the project, which provides new toys for children who might not have a lot under the tree.
She got to talking about the situation with Bill Lee, the retired Red Sox baseball player who lives nearby. Next thing you know, Mr. Lee was signed up to play Santa in order to get some more attention to the Toys for Tots program.
It was an opportunity for Mr. Lee to promote his new brand of wine, called Spaceman. Add live music, provided by Mavis MacNeil and Andrew Koehler, and an event was born.
Spaceman was Mr. Lee’s nickname when he was on the Red Sox, and he had a label created that looks like an old-fashioned baseball card. Mr. Lee grew up in the Napa Valley in California but has roots in Vermont as well. He feels strongly that wines made in California are better because the state gets more sun. He said maybe Vermont wines made with white grapes will be all right.
Spaceman wine is also a fund-raiser. The label promises that a portion of the profits from the wine will go to the Red Sox Foundation, which supports a Red Sox Scholars program and an inner city baseball program.
Mr. Lee calls his wine a “petit cera cera.”
He describes it, on the label, as such:
“Shanghaied for fifty years on the east coast by the game of baseball, Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee — sixth generation Californian and prodigal son has returned to his roots by making a monsterous red wine, like that which has run through his ancestors veins and vines since the 1800s.
“This wine will knock your Sox off.”
On the day of the promotion, December 22, Mr. Lee gave people tastes of his wine. He came equipped with autographed baseball bats as well.
Michelle Guenard, creator of Michelle’s Spicy Kimchi, came by with a Red Sox jersey, and before long, she and Ms. Maclure were posing for photos on Santa’s lap and pretending to attack him with wine bottles and an autographed bat.
Ms. Maclure added another incentive for people to donate: Anyone who brought in a toy would be entered to win one pizza a month for a year.
As the musicians were packing up on the afternoon of December 22, Ms. Maclure said the event had helped fill up the Toys for Tots box.
contact Bethany M. Dunbar at [email protected]