Fisher Fund Wine Tasting and Auction has deep roots in Costa Rica

Some may be surprised to hear that York University spans beyond the borders of the Keele Campus, to the Glendon Campus in Toronto (and soon to the upcoming Markham Centre). What may come as a bigger surprise is that York University resides beyond Canada – to Costa Rica, which is home to York University’s Lillian Meighen Wright Centre EcoCampus.

There’s a strong history in York’s connection to Costa Rica and it began in 1998, when Toronto physician Dr. Woody Fisher donated 124 hectares of the Costa Rican Rainforest to York University. In honour of Fisher, the Faculty of Environmental Studies created the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation to protect this rainforest habitat

From left: Vice-President Advancement Jeff O’Hagan, Faculty of Environmental Studies Former Dean Noël Sturgeon, Dr. Woody Fisher, Valerie Grant and York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton at the 2017 Fisher Fund Wine Tasting & Auction

To support the fund, the Fisher Fund Wine Tasting and Auction has been held for the last 15 years. Created in 2002, staff and volunteers associated with the Division of Advancement and Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University have given their time to help make the auction possible.

“The Las Nubes project would not have been possible without the outstanding work and funds garnered through the Fisher Fund wine auction initiative,” said President & Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “Dr. Woody Fisher and Valerie Grant have brought together volunteers and supporters who have helped York expand our commitment to sustainable initiatives and advance the future of our international communities.”

The Fisher Fund Wine Tasting & Auction offered collectors and enthusiasts an opportunity to sample and acquire new and rare varieties

The auction, which was held each year on The Vaughan Estate, has raised more than $1.5 million for the EcoCampus. It has supported the protection of the biological and ecological value of the Las Nubes Rainforest and adjacent area in southern Costa Rica. With significant achievements in research and conservation programs, as well as environmental education and sustainability, the auction has made immense change possible.

FES student volunteers pose with the Fisher Fund Wine Tasting founder in 2015. From left: Rupinder Assi (BES ’09), Alison Ramnarine (BES ’14), Dr. Woody Fisher, Binesh Lodhi (BES ’15), Pamela Martinez and Craig Stephens (BES ’15)

But now, after 15 years, the auction has come to a graceful end. The ever-increasing costs of fine Bordeaux, the diminishing cellars of faithful donors and needs of major buyers were starting to raise red flags about sustaining the auction long-term and, with regret, it was decided that the 2017 Wine Auction would be the last.

“The Las Nubes Project, with the enthusiastic support of our presidents, our deans and the wonderfully generous Fisher Fund Friends, has been built on a strong base. It will undoubtedly continue to go from strength to strength,” said Fisher.

Although the auction has now been retired, the efforts are anything but stagnant. Jim Love, a supporter of the Las Nubes Project, has orchestrated the creation of an Endowment Fund that will more than cover the annual funding previously provided by the wine auctions. Love’s actions will ensure the future of the Fisher Fund and encourage future still-to-be-imagined research and education contributions by the Las Nubes Project.

For more information or to contribute to the Fisher Fund, visit