Toast To Life and Zerbina

Toast To Life Venetian Carnival is right around the corner and we wanted to take a minute to tell you about one of Toast To Life’s longtime sponsors and supporter, Zerbina Imports.

Historically, Zerbina Imports sponsors Toast To Life by providing deliciously curated wine collections from Italy, France, Argentina, and California for guests to enjoy at our in-person event. This year Toast Life is virtual and yet Zerbina still found a way to support Toast To Life by providing wine to be included in our exclusive sponsor gift bags.

We asked Bryan Rivi-Howell, Principal of Verbina Wines a few questions about why he supports the Center.        

Bryan, tell us how you learned about Resource Center. “Back in the late ‘80s, I participated in a few fundraisers and events that while at the time were associated with the community, predated the existence of the Resource Center. I helped move furniture into Bryan’s House the week that they began providing services.  I helped with fundraising events at events such as Razzle Dazzle as well as the numerous block parties that went on back in this era. In the early ’90s, I participated in the “Buddy Project” and assisted a number of AIDS victims in their transition through later life. After a period of absence, and after I had started the wine company, I wanted to re-engage and support the ongoing efforts by Resource Center to positively impact the LGBTQ community. I’m proud to have been a part of this community for over 35 years. To have witnessed the development and growth of a loving community. And to stand in honor of those who we have lost over the years.”

Tell us why you think it’s important for others to support the Center and Toast To Life Venetian Carnival. “The work that is being done today is no less important or significant than it was back in the “early days” of the AIDS crisis. Our community is far more visible, and far more a part of the fabric of the culture and landscape of North Texas. There is a lot left to be done…”

Do you have a special experience about a previous Toast To Life? Tell us about it. What made it special or significant? “We always enjoy coming together with the LGBTQ community and feeling part of something much larger. It’s an honor to be part of a legacy that has impacted so many lives.”

Tell us about Zerbina’s newest endeavors:

Our retail license: “We’ve operated for the past 5 years as an Import/Distribution company. That precluded us from being able to sell directly to consumers. In 2020, we were able to obtain our winery license, and so we’ve set up a retail section here at the warehouse where we offer all of the wines we produce and import, as well as having set up an online store where people can purchase our wines and either pick them up or have them delivered.”

Our Tasting Room: “When we obtained our Winery license, we went ahead and set up a tasting room where people can come and sample our wines. The space is also available to small groups who want to provide a unique experience for their members. We can provide anything from a simple wine tasting to a full wine pairing dinner/event.”

Our new Equality label: “My Italian family (I’m an Italian citizen) has made wine for over 200 years that we know of back in Zerbina. I started the company and developed the Zerbina lineup of wine as a testament to my family heritage. We’re about to embark on a new venture with the development of the “J. Ryland” line of wines that we will produce at our facility in California. J. Ryland is my husband. I want this brand to stand for what I consider to be the essential pillars of the LGBT community: Inclusion. Acceptance. Love.”

Is there anything else that you want the community to know about Zerbina Imports? “2020 was brutal. While we have persevered, we need the support of the community. We would love to have those who enjoy wine give us and our collection of 100 wines a try! We offer wines from Italy, France, Argentina and California. We have a large selection of varietals as well. Whether online (www.zerbinaimports.com), in person here at our warehouse location (130 Howell Street, Dallas, 75207), or at stores such as Royal Blue Grocery, Whole Foods Market, Kindred Spirits, and restaurants such as Street’s Fine Chicken, Al Biernat’s, Saint Rocco’s New York Italian Kitchen, we would love to earn the support of the community and our wines.”

Resource Center’s 23rd annual Toast To Life Venetian Carnival presented by ASP Cares Pharmacy is Saturday, May 1, 2021. Enjoy this FREE and virtual event with streamed fun, an auction and entertainment and auction by DJ Blake Ward, Caleb Hans, Gulf Coast Kiki Ballroom, Heart to Heart Duo, Flying Free Arial Magic, Youth First member Dee and special guest surprise appearances.

All proceeds benefit the services and programs of the Center.

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