Seattle Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales and his wife, Monica, are getting into the wine business — for a good cause. The couple unveiled a new venture during a news conference at T-Mobile Park on Wednesday — a limited edition wine they created in honor of Gonzales’s mother-in-law, Linda Zender, who died last year from multiple system atrophy.

The couple, along with Fred and Ana Stern of Orondo-based Noviello Vineyards, have named the wine “Grace,” and proceeds from the sale of the wine will be donated to the nonprofit Defeat MSA to help fund research and support those diagnosed with the disease.

The wine is named in part after the couple’s daughter, Grace Linda Gonzales, but also in honor of Monica’s mother and what the word “grace” means to the family.

“My mom really taught us and showed us what the true meaning of grace was,” Monica Gonzales said. “We feel it’s important to lead with gratitude to be gracious as life is challenging, as life is amazing, and really to always give one another grace.”

Linda Zender’s battle with MSA began in August 2015, when she noticed a disturbing lack of balance. She had trouble going up and down the stairs in her house, and suddenly didn’t feel confident wearing heels. Suspecting something was wrong, Zender got an MRI, which came back clear.

“Our family celebrated: ‘thank goodness it’s nothing serious,’ ” Monica said.


That December, Monica and Marco got married. Despite the clear scan, Monica says her mom was feeling symptoms, and they had worsened. She was slurring words after only having one glass of wine, and her feeling of being unbalanced never left. A repeat MRI showed a shrinking cerebellum and in August 2016, a year after her symptoms presented, Zender was diagnosed with MSA.

Difficult to diagnose, MSA is a rare neurodegenerative disease that affects everything from breathing and motor control to blood pressure, causing deterioration and shrinkage in the brain. There is no cure or treatment for the disease. After living with MSA for seven years, Zender died in 2021.

The Gonzaleses wanted to come up with a way to honor Zender’s memory, and the collaboration with Noviello Vineyards was natural. The Sterns, who started Noviello Vineyards in 2014, were neighbors of Monica’s parents, and they had become close family friends with the Zenders over the years.

A casual conversation over dinner about a way to honor Linda Zender turned into a plan, and the Sterns and the Gonzaleses worked together on blending and tasting to create the final product, a cabernet sauvignon-heavy blend featuring five different grapes. The label on the bottle features the outline of an angel wing, in honor of Zender.

Considered a limited edition venture with the possibility for continued partnership, there are only 163 cases of Grace, which was bottled at the end of June. Bottles are available from the Noviello website, priced at $42 each. In addition to donating proceeds from the sales of Grace, the winery has also committed to donating $1 from any bottle of Noviello wine sold to MSA research.

There were “a lot of tears” during the blending process, and Zender was never far from their minds, Ana Stern said, adding, “I really think she has a hand in all this.”

Zender loved wine and the conviviality that was shared among family and friends over a bottle — another reason a collaboration with Noviello made sense for Monica and Marco.

“When we made this, we envisioned sharing it with our friends and family,” Marco Gonzales said. “We’ve never had a bad time opening a bottle of wine with the special people in our lives, and what better way to commemorate that experience in remembrance of Linda, doing what she would’ve loved doing — socializing with friends and cherishing those moments.”