I get to work with some amazing people at 1-800-Flowers.com. They’re the kind of team players who are always happy to help out and who jump at any opportunity to give back. So where else would I turn when I was organizing the Wine and Painting portion of the second annual Golf and Wine & Paint Classic benefiting Smile Farms.

Golf fundraisers have been around forever. They provide an excellent opportunity for corporations to give back to communities while also rewarding employees and clients with a beautiful day on the links. We decided to add a new twist to this year’s event by including an afternoon wine tasting and painting session that would wrap up at the same time that the golfers would be finishing their game and heading back to the clubhouse, where the evening’s festivities included cocktails, awards, a silent auction, and dinner. Adding the wine tasting and painting turned out to be a huge success! It was so relaxing and everyone had so much fun. Our goal was to make everyone feel like I imagined these two women must have felt when I took this photo of them in La Jolla, CA this summer.

A bunch of fresh cut lavender, with its sweet and calming scent, placed at each setting added just one more layer of sensory stimulation.

As this event was a benefit for Smile Farms, the theme for the afternoon was “Grown in America.”


Chandra Savage, the Production Manager in the Creative Services Department at 1-800 Flowers.com, also happens to be a certified wine educator and owner of Mo Wine. She volunteered to lead the wine pairing portion, which kicked off the afternoon and set the mood for the rest of the day.

Michael Green, a food and wine expert, and a Smile Farms board member, donated four wines—2 white and 2 red—produced in America. Chandra introduced each wine and recommended the following food pairings for each:

• Heitz Cellars Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley, California) with goat cheese served on a radicchio leaf
• Nelms Road Merlot (Washington State) with a pâté and charcuterie board
• Bedell Cellars Chardonnay—produced right here on the North Fork of Long Island—paired with an artichoke bruschetta
• Soter Vineyards sustainably grown Planet Oregon Pinot Noir paired with slices of roasted pork loin

The overall opinion was that all of the wines were delicious, and our artists continued to enjoy the selections while they created their masterpieces! The sauvignon blanc in particular was a surprise to a few who said that they were not normally fans of sauvignon, but really enjoyed the Heitz Cellars!



Our art instructor was Carly Fitzsimons, who works in the 1-800 Flowers.com photo studio and has been featured in many of my blogs posts! She’s an artist, a model, and a do-it-all kind of girl who has helped out with many Smile Farms projects.

A beautiful bright yellow and red sunflower design from Social Artworking seemed like the perfect subject to paint on a beautiful late September day.

I have used this site before and find it very easy when planning a painting event. Their designs are modern and fun and you can order everything you’ll need including instructions and even tracing paper for those who feel too intimidated to go totally freestyle!

At 1-800-Flowers.com, we work with some amazing flower growers in California. Two of those farms—Sun Valley Flower Group and Dos Gringos—were kind enough to send us bunches of fresh cut sunflowers that we used to decorate, beautify, and inspire!

It was so much fun seeing how each person’s finished canvas reflected their own interpretation of the original design. Creativity was encouraged along with laughter, good conversation, making new friends, and supporting a great cause.

We wanted the artists’ to be included in the awards portion of the evening without it being a “competition” so we came up with awards based on quotes and personalities of famous artists. All attendees filled out the following questionnaire at the end of the class:

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Who do you think made the biggest effort and threw their heart and soul into their painting?

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”– Pablo Picasso

Who do you think was the most relaxed during this afternoon’s painting class?

“Every good painter paints what he is.” – Jackson Pollack

Who do you think was the messiest painter today?

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas

Whose painting style and approach did you find to be the most inspirational today?

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali

Who do you think had the most fun creating their sunflower masterpiece?

Can you guess from the photos who received which award?

Based on the feedback from this event, we will definitely be doing more Wine and Paint classes in the future. It was a great way to spend the day and raise much needed funds for an organization dedicated to providing meaningful work opportunities to developmentally disabled adults at local farms, urban gardens and greenhouses in the communities throughout the country where they live.

Smile Farms believes that our communities are made of all types of awesome people, and by bringing together innovators, collaborators and makers of change—we can create a movement that nurtures a world where people with differing abilities are always included and employed.


Julie started her career in the floral industry over 30 years ago in a small, family-owned flower shop. From floral designer to author and lifestyle expert, her insight has been instrumental in developing the 1-800-Flowers.com brand. Representing the company’s floral lifestyle vision, Julie has shared her talent and passion in numerous television appearances and national magazine features. She is an active fundraiser and longtime friend of IGHL, a group dedicated to facilitating a more independent life for developmentally challenged adults.

You Might Be Interested In...

Comments are closed.