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Of Silver, Rock Stars, Wheelchairs and Wine

June 1, 2011

By David Bond, Editor

Of Silver, Rock Stars, Wheelchairs and Wine

Wallace, Idaho " There is something magical about meeting Gordon Holmes, even if it's just over the telephone. His story is a life's story, and also a life-giving story. And you'll get to meet him this coming Sunday and Monday at the Cambridge House World Resource Investment Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

Gordon Holmes (no relation to Frank, although as friends they joke about who is the handsomest brother) couldn't be trusted if left at home when he was a youngster, so his red-headed mother dragged him with her to the hair-dresser's every Saturday. But the hair-dresser was a market-freak, and pretty soon Gordon was absorbing the woman's wisdom and he bought his first resource stock, Utah Construction and Mining, because he liked the name, at the age of 13, without ever telling his parents. A year later the stock tripled on a buyout and he was hooked. He went from there to speculating on wine futures.

The now 60-year-old 5th generation Californian is an evangelist for silver and gold and his market cred extends back to when he developed the marketing and business plan for Investors Business Daily with UCLA friend Bill O'Neill, down on Wilshire Boulevard. After helping found IBD, he launched Research Magazine and Buy Side Magazine, then did the required financial genius' tour-of-duty in New York. He is publisher of the Gold Report and pals around with guys like Steve Jobs, neighbour Tommy Smothers, and former Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring. He hangs out with the CEOs of Sprint, Intel, Oracle and Radio Shack.

They all think he's slightly nuts for being a precious metals bull. “I am the strange guy. I don't care about normal stuff. None of them wants to know why they should buy gold and silver. I know what's going to happen to the dollar, and this economy. You do have people who have the insight into this but those are the rare groups,” Holmes says.

Gold and silver have treated Gordon Holmes nicely in recent years, but he had the money thing cracked long before the commodity bull run began, and the Golden Bear State beckoned him home from his New York TDY. In what could be your California cliche Cinderella story, he married wife Kari, who was Number Two in style and design for Vogue Magazine publisher Conde Nast

Ten years ago Gordon and Kari built the Lookout Ridge Winery 1,800 feet atop the Mayacamas Mountains overlooking the Sonoma and Napa valleys in California. Holmes hired the best wine-makers he could find.

“I hired the rock stars of the wine-making arts. We make six distinct reds. It made sense to have a wine-maker dedicated to his or her favourite varietal. I mean, I would go to Jim Turk for gold advice, but I wouldn't hire him to change the oil in my car. Everybody has their passion. All of our vintners, and all of our wine-makers, are rock-stars. They have a passion for making the world's best wine. So when you are buying a bottle of Lookout Ridge, you're also buying the wine-maker. If you've got the best fruit on the planet and the best wine-maker on the planet, you're going to get a great bottle of juice,” he says.

Indeed. Lookout Ridge fetches at least $100 per bottle, and its premiere Screaming Eagle wines settle for $1,000 or more, if and when you get to the top of their 15-year waiting list.

Then tragedy struck. Kari lost her ability to walk and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Moving around is something we all take for granted. Suddenly, for Kari Holmes, it wasn't there. He bought her a wheelchair, and it changed her life. She could move again.

The change in Kari's life, with the simple addition of a wheelchair, changed Gordon Holmes' life as well. He began to wonder who else might need a wheelchair just to get around, and found 150 million of them. Visiting a third-world country, Holmes came upon a father bearing his crippled son in his arms. He recalls: “This little boy had given up all hope and self-confidence. He was frail. I lifted him up from his father's arms and put him into a wheelchair. In seconds, he was zooming around on his own. He became a kid again! It just blew my mind.”

If the big guns in Holmes's life are sceptical of his passion for silver and gold, they are fully aboard with his passion for mobility for the underprivileged of the world. Cazart! as Hunter S. Thompson might have said. A wheelchair for a bottle of wine. Every jug of juice Lookout Ridge sells donates one wheelchair to a needy person. Gordon Holmes was focused on the Third World, but friend Joe Martin of Cambridge House International " they met at one of Joe's gold shows a few years ago " mentioned that needs might be addressed closer to home. Martin is a big fan of the ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease) foundation in British Columbia. Folks with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis suffer the same mobility problems as those with MS. Wheelchairs frequently are the answer.

If the big stars and CEOs in Holmes's life are sceptical of his passion for silver and gold, they are fully aboard his passion for mobility for the underprivileged of the world, he says.

With Martin's help there's now a way for a Canadian to make a tax-deductible contribution to Gordon Holmes' cause, and it will stay in B.C. Lookout Ridge's wines are now available in Canada and will be featured at select wine stores during the Cambridge House event this weekend. Somebody will become mobile again. Somebody's life will change. And it comes with a highly decorated vintage.

“Before Kari got M.S., I'd always given to charity, but I never felt anything. Now, I give a wheelchair, and every time it changes my life,” says Holmes.