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Raising a glass to charity

Fishtown Social initiative seeks to give back with limited-run kegs of wines.

Charity on tap: Bottles await to be filled with wine, which will benefit select charities and causes. PHOTO COURTESY OF FISHTOWN SOCIAL

Why not raise a glass to charity the next time you decide to sit back with a bottle of wine in the River Wards?

Fishtown Social, 1525 Frankford Ave., is doing just that with its recent ongoing initiative.

Opened in 2016, the bar and boutique focuses “on natural organic and biodynamic wines from small producers and interesting regions,” according to proprietor Vanessa Wong.

Since opening, the bar has featured draft wines, a trend that was a hard sell at first, but has caught on quickly over the last four years, Wong added.

In the winter, Wong decided she wanted to promote the business’s draft wine program while giving customers an opportunity to support a good cause.

For Wong, it’s all about the philosophy on which she founded Fishtown Social.

I often use the tagline ‘feel good about the wine you drink.’ To me that starts from the moment you step into our shop, all the way until you pop that bottle and take a sip,” Wong said.

That philosophy encompasses several standards including there being no dumb questions about wine, including wines that won’t break the bank, giving back to the community, and curating wines that are sustainable and often from small producers. 

“We want people to feel good about their experience; feel good about the amount they’ve spent; feel good supporting a small business that in turn supports our community; and finally feel good about the quality of the wines they drink,” Wong said.

And so, on Jan. 2, the first keg of wine for the initiative was tapped.

“It’s pretty straightforward. I tap a keg of wine and offer $10 bottles of the draft wine to go. Each keg is for a different charity or cause,” Wong said. “When the keg kicks, I donate 100 percent of the sale proceeds from that keg. There are approximately 25 bottles of wine in a keg so each donation is $250.”

Initially, the plan was to offer one keg a month to support one charity, but overwhelming support of the initiative led to more frequent tappings.

“So long as we could source good wine and empty bottles fast enough, which has been a challenge, but that’s a great thing to see,” Wong said.

So far, more than a dozen recipients have been impacted by the initiative, including.

Philabundance, Girls Rock Philly, Mama-Tee Community Fridge Project, Papermill Food Hub,

Sunday Love Project, Lutheran Settlement House, The People’s Kitchen Philly, Friends of Hackett, Friends of HA Brown, Friends of Adaire, Everybody Eats Philly, FNA Covid 19 Mutual Fund and Sulimay’s Restaurant for Meal Donations.

The next selected charity is Share Food Philly.

When a new keg is tapped, Fistown Social posts it on social media.

Since January, the initiative has raised $3,750, and Wong hopes to hit $20,000 for the year.

“As long as I can source good kegs of wine and empty bottles I will continue to raise money for our community,” Wong said. “I plan to circle back to many of the charities and causes that we have already supported because they aren’t stopping, so why should we?” ••


Bottles of wine for the initiative can be purchased during business hours, from Monday through Saturday, noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Customers can walk in or walk up to the window to purchase. For more details, visit Fishtown Social on Facebook or Instagram.

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