George F. Hamel Jr. ’80

George HamelWhen the California wildfires swept through wine country last fall, George and Pamela Hamel, co-owners of Hamel Family Wines in the Sonoma Valley, sprang into action. They quickly organized and hosted a benefit with singer John Fogerty in support of Wine Country Wildfire Relief, raising more than $1.2 million. For the Hamels, who lost their own home in the fire, it was a typical act of generosity.

The Hamel family, which includes three generations of UW–Madison alumni (and a Badger alumna daughter-in-law), has been extraordinarily generous across the campus. They provided the $15 million lead gift for the new Hamel Music Center, as well as the founding gift for SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. They have been longtime supporters of the Department of Communication Arts and have provided major gifts to the Department of Athletics, the Garding Against Cancer initiative, the Office of Student Financial Aid, the Memorial Union, and several other UW programs.

Before becoming a vintner, George was a founder and served as COO of ValueAct Capital, a San Francisco–based investment firm.
For the Van Hise Society member, his support of the university has extended to giving generously of his time and advice. He serves on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board, the Communication Arts Partners, and the Garding Against Cancer steering committee, and he previously served on the UW Foundation Board of Directors and the College of Letters & Science Board of Visitors.