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    Love, Grapes and ALS: Vintner gifts annual proceeds of vineyard in his wife’s memory

    Barry Collier in his beloved Collier Falls vineyards
    Barry Collier in his beloved Collier Falls vineyards

    At first, the story doesn’t seem all that uncommon. A devoted wife follows her husband’s career around the country and, in this case, overseas. Once their two sons fly the nest, she begins to cultivate her own passions. But Susan Collier’s story diverges from the norm here.

    With the blessing of her husband Barry, she moves to Northern California to attend viticulture college while he continues producing movies for HBO and Showtime in Los Angeles.

    Soon they fall in love with Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley and purchase 100 private hillside acres at the end of West Dry Creek Road, with one of the most exquisite natural waterfalls found anywhere in the region. For years they prune, retrofit trellises, install drip irrigation and plant several different red-grape varietals – Zinfandel, Cabernet, Primitivo and Petite Syrah. Their Collier Falls wines receive accolades and medals.

    Then, late in 2004, Sue is diagnosed with ALS. They choose the Forbes Norris ALS Research and Treatment Center at Sutter Health’s CPMC for her care.

    “Sue didn’t want to spend the rest of her life dying,” Barry recalls as he recently tells their story on the deck of their restored early 1900s cottage overlooking the vineyards. “She wanted to spend the rest of her life living.”

    Sue lived for three more years, with Barry caring for her at home until she passed in 2007. At her wish, her body was donated to ALS research. Barry’s wish is to gift the Forbes Norris center the annual proceeds of the wine, Syrah du Soleil, produced from the vineyard that Sue planted with Carolyn Coryelle, her friend from viticulture college. Carolyn named the vineyard “Sue’s Block.” The wine was released in April.

    “It’s a way we can support something good from something we created together,” says Barry. “It’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s what we can do. If everyone did what they could do, we might solve this terrible disease.” .

    For more information about the Forbes Norris MDA/ALS Research and Treatment Center, call 415-600-3604 or visit cpmc.org/services/als/.

    You can support the Center by purchasing a case of Collier Falls’ Syrah du Soleil at 10% off with free shipping. Go to collierfalls.com Opens new window and tell them you saw our story.