November 30, 2011
Tonight’s a very big night for cowboys and girls: it’s opening night of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Our very own Purple Cowboy wines will be poured at a variety of events as the rodeo world’s biggest competition. The action plays out over the next two weeks (Dec. 1-10), culminating in the crowning of the world’s top professional cowboys and cowgirls.
We’re proud that Purple Cowboy is the official wine of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and major sponsor of Tough Enough To Wear Pink, the western community’s grassroots breast cancer organization. But maybe you’re wondering how that all came about and how Purple Cowboy wines came to be. Cowboys? Wine? Gotta be a story behind that. And there is.
We recently filmed a video at beautiful Cocavin Vineyards in the hills of Paso Robles which will be aired on the Jumbotron of the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Las Vegas, site of the rodeo competition. The video, which you can see here, tells the tale of a band of cowboys who once worked the vineyards and rodeo’d on the weekends. They drank so much red wine that it turned their teeth purple.
Well, that’s how the legend goes. But here’s the rest of the story. Wine Sisterhood founder Terry Wheatley, our own “Boss Lady”, lives a double-life. During the week, she’s a wine entrepreneur and one of the most respected female wine executives in the business. But on the weekends, she’s more likely to be found on her ranch in Central California with her rodeo champion husband, rodeo champion son, daughter (who is also Executive Director of Tough Enough to Wear Pink) and their spouses, children, dogs, horses…
Our Boss Lady grew up on a ranch in Red Bluff, California and the western and rodeo community have always been a part of her life. When she started out in the wine business many years ago, she actually worked with a group of guys who, yes, worked at the winery, rodeo’d on weekends and were called the Purple Cowboys. She swore to them that someday she would own her own wine company and make a wine and named after them. Those wine-loving cowboys probably thought that she was just a young whippersnapper but many years later, the dream came true.
Today, Purple Cowboy wines are served at rodeo events and fundraisers around the country, throughout the year. During the WNFR, one of the highest-profile events will be the George Strait Tough Enough To Wear Pink Golf Tournament at the fabulous Cascata resort. Country music legend George Strait is a generous supporter of Tough Enough to Wear Pink and this annual tournament is always a sell-out.
TETWP first came to life at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2004. Terry, herself a breast cancer survivor, along with Karl Stressman (then Special Events Director at Wrangler, now Rodeo Commissioner) came up with the idea of challenging the cowboys to wear pink one night at the competition to raise awareness about the disease. The spectacle of rough, tough cowboys sporting pink Wrangler shirts during competition caught the imagination of the rodeo community, and a grassroots movement was born.
Today, TETWP helps rodeo committees organize pink-themed events at their local rodeos to raise money for women and their families dealing with breast cancer. Most of the funds raised stay right in the community keeping support local and directly helping friends and neighbors in need, while a portion goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York which funds international breast cancer research projects. TETWP is hoping to break the $11 million dollar mark this year. The final tally will be announced at Tough Enough To Wear Pink night at the rodeo on Monday, December 5.