Dr. Larry Bishop Parlays Wine Knowledge For Worthy Causes
CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN Dr. larry bishop
Benjamin Franklin, a fellow who knew a thing or two about enjoying life once said, “Wine makes daily living easier.”
To Franklin’s quote Dr. Larry Bishop could well add that wine can also raise lots of money for worthy charities. The MIMA dermatologist and wine connoisseur has parlayed his knowledge of the grape into hundreds of thousands of dollars for Brevard organizations.
DR. LARRY BISHOP, above with his wife Cindy, have parlayed his knowledge of wine into hundreds of
thousands of dollars for Brevard organizations. (Space Coast Medicine & Active Living)
It was a wild idea, literally, for Bishop’s first foray into fundraising was for Brevard Zoo in 2009.
“I wanted to help them with their development issues and raise money for their animal hospital,” he said.
The gathering of zoo friends – some new, some long-standing – that Bishop helped organize at the Indialantic home of Jeanne and Phil Farmer generated $100,000 for the renovation of the zoo’s animal hospital. “It was a raging success that served to introduce the zoo to many donors,” said Bishop.
The following year, Bishop turned his energies to the Brevard Art Museum with a party at Meander, the Merritt Island residence of John and Sybil Dean.
“That brought in a lot of new people who wanted to support the museum,” said Bishop. It also brought in $200,000 in funds the aging museum badly needed.
Last year, Bishop, involved with Health First’s Grape Escape, again partnered with the Farmers, this time for an intimate 100 pt. wine dinner paired with a seven-course menu created by Chef Ratib Ahmad of Oceanside Grille.
“Chef Ratib, Phil and I agonized over every single course,” said Bishop. “This kind of event has been done in cities like Miami, but to my knowledge, never here. We turned the Farmer home into a five-star restaurant. It was a magical evening.”
Although only 22 guests attended, the recipient of the evening’s proceeds, Health First’s Heart Institute, walked away with more than $100,000. Finding 100 pt. wines was no mean feat, as Bishop searched wine auction houses such as Chicago’s Hart Davis Hart for some extremely special vintages, such as the 1996 Greenock Creek Roennfeldt Road Shiraz. “It took me four months of stalking to come up with four bottles of that particular wine,” said Bishop.
At press time, Bishop was in the thick of this year’s Grape Escape, which he is co-chairing with Tim Dwight of the Green Turtle Market. The team has planned an appreciation dinner for Health First’s most generous donors and volunteers at Café Boulud, one of Palm Beach’s most coveted dining destinations.
The Grape Escape raised $350,000 last year, and Bishop is optimistic that this year’s event will top that total. Bishop has partnered with Dr. Nanialei Golden to host a molecular gastronomy party for eight with killer wines at his Del Sol estate in Merritt Island as part of the Grape Escape auction this year. “My goal is to enhance the experience in order to encourage donors to continue donating and to donate more,” said Bishop.
Bishop also uses wine as a teaching tool of sorts in his Derm Challenge, an online event for physician assistants in dermatology. Every month, Bishop publishes a dermatological image on the website and challenges PAs across the country to identify the medical condition. At the end of the month, the winner receives a bottle of good wine.
“It really makes training fun,” said Bishop “We’ve had 15,000 hits.”
As a personal goal, Bishop wants to be to Brevard what the late Paul Newman was to Westport, Connecticut. “He took a bottle of salad dressing and did so much good,” said Bishop.