Colby Rex Groom was born with a hole in his heart and the 12-year old son of Australian winemaker Daryl Groom is a resilient veteran of open-heart-by-pass surgery.

As a tribute to Colby, the “Colby Red” table wine will be released in January. Daryl produced the red blend in parthership with with Treasury Wine Estates, home to Beringer and parent company of Australia icon Penfolds, where Daryl once served as Senior Red Winemaker.

Here’s the back story: Colby was first diagnosed with a heart defect when he was born.  By the age of two, the Atrial Septal Defect, or “hole” in his heart had healed itself, but doctors quickly found a defective heart valve.  With his heart leaking and deteriorating, the family decided when Colby was eight years old to have him undergo open-heart surgery to repair the valve and, when that repair did not hold, he again had open-heart surgery the following year. At that time, he received a St. Jude Medical valve, developed as part of a St. Jude Medical Foundation cardiac research project.

Here’s where Colby earned his badge of courage: He pitched a tent in the back yard of the family’s Sonoma County home and offered to let visitors see his chest scars and listen to his newly-placed St. Jude’s Medical valve – for a fee.  He raised more than $1,000 for the American Heart Association that day, and inspired a father-son journey that leads directly to Colby Red, a wine brand owned by father and son, and dedicated to raising funds for cardiac research.

On a personal note, over the years I’d see Daryl and Lisa at events and check in about Colby. I could see how worried they were. Who wouldn’t be? How many kids undergo open heart surgery at eight, only to learn later that the repair did not hold and have to go at it again. It’s great to know that Colby is doing so well today.

This is good will drinking at its best.