Daily Sports Smile: MLB pitcher and wife create limited edition wine to benefit neurological nonprofit

An MLB couple is raising a glass of wine and awareness for a rare neurological disease.

Monica Gonzales — the wife of Seattle Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales — lost her mother, Linda Zender, to Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA) in February 2021. The couple now works with Noviello Vineyards in Chelan, Washington to create a varietal blend wine. The collaboration benefits Defeat MSA, an organization helping fund research and support for those battling the disease.

“It just made perfect sense to do something that would honor my mom and then we would have the proceeds go to her cause. It really felt like an organic partnership and it just unfolded beautifully from there,” Gonzales told USA TODAY Sports+. “We were so excited and just couldn’t wait to get the ideas going.”

Gonzales said Noviello’s owners, Fred and Ana Stern, are longtime family friends and were especially close to Linda during her fight with MSA. Gonzales said her mother was always “really interested in wine” and the partnership was born shortly after Linda’s death.

STRETCH RUN:Eight questions heading into the final month of the MLB season

The limited-edition wine will bear the name “Grace,” which is also the name of the Gonzales’ 1-year-old daughter. Monica said she chose the name, remembering the grace Linda showed while battling her disease.

MSA is a rare, rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disorder that affects the brain and the systems that regulate everyday bodily functions, according to the Defeat MSA website.

“This disease is so debilitating,” Gonzales said, “and my mom just carried so much grace as she fought. She showed us how to be graceful in those challenges but also reminded that through the highs and lows of life to lead with gratitude. (Grace) was a word that became a huge part of our family.”

Linda died while Gonzales was pregnant with her mom’s namesake. 

“So when we found out I was having a daughter, and then we, unfortunately, lost my mom while I was pregnant … we knew we were going to name our daughter Grace Linda.”

The label on the Gonzales’ wine features the name in script writing connecting to an angel wing, another homage to Linda. In the background is Marco’s No. 7 jersey number. And seven barrels of the “Grace G7” limited-edition wine were produced.

The wine isn’t the first instance of the couple working to raise funds for Defeat MSA. In 2021, Monica and Marco collaborated with Seattle’s Blazing Bagels for a custom sandwich — a percentage of proceeds were donated to the organization.

LOOKING AHEAD:2023 MLB schedule released, regular season opens on March 30 with a balanced schedule

“I think having the passion that we have behind this project is helpful,” Gonzales said.

The wine is a five-varietal blend consisting of 50% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 20% cab franc, 10% petit verdot and 5% malbec with juices sourced from Cougar Crest Winery in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley.

Grace G7 will go on sale Sept. 7 with a percentage from each bottle purchased going to Defeat MSA. 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.