California

SLO County wineries pitch in to help Northern California fire victims

A burned bottle of wine rests in the rubble at the Signorello Estate Winery in Napa. Worried California vintners surveyed the damage to their vineyards and wineries Tuesday after wildfires swept through several counties whose famous names have become synonymous with fine food and drink.
A burned bottle of wine rests in the rubble at the Signorello Estate Winery in Napa. Worried California vintners surveyed the damage to their vineyards and wineries Tuesday after wildfires swept through several counties whose famous names have become synonymous with fine food and drink. AP

A group of Paso Robles-area wineries will donate $1 for every bottle sold through the end of the month to help those affected by the devastating fires in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

The effort, coordinated by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, represents one way the local wine community is rallying around its neighbors to the north.

The wine alliance and the SLO Wine Country Association are also coordinating with other regional wine associations around the state to offer goods, services and lodging to wine-industry workers affected by the fires, with many details still being worked out.

The Station wine shop in San Luis Obispo is also working on a campaign to bring the community together to help.

A continually updated list of wineries participating in the donation program can be found at www.pasowine.com/consumer_events/wildfire_relief/, featuring about two dozen wineries as of mid-day Wednesday.

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Damaged winemaking vats and barrels were left in charred ruins at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa after wildfire roared through earlier this week. Ben Margot AP

At the end of the month, the funds from wine sales will be donated to three organizations working to help the stricken communities:

  • Napa Valley Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund
  • Community Foundation of Sonoma County’s Resilience Fund
  • Community Foundation of Mendocino County

Granada Hotel & Bistro will donate 50 percent of the sales of bottles of Northern California wines straight to those affected through gift cards and other direct methods, as well as 10 percent of bottles sold at The Station wine shop, from Oct. 15-31.

The two locations also will serve as drop-off locations for donations of supplies, which they’ll deliver to affected areas. Baby food, pet food, blankets, pillows, toiletries and phone chargers are most in need, organizers note.

Fundraising events are also being planned for both locations, though details have not yet been worked out.

A GoFundMe campaign called NorCAL Fire Relief from SLO County has been launched on behalf of many businesses, wineries, resorts and restaurants in the area by Parker Sanpei. Donations will be split equally between the same three organizations the Paso Wine campaign is benefiting.

The SLO Wine group has added a #CAWineStrong page to its website to help amplify other efforts and list ways supporters can contribute through member wineries.

“In times like these, we are all neighbors,” said SLO Wine Executive Director Heather Muran. “In that spirit, the SLO Wine Country Association is mobilizing its members to help provide immediate relief and supplies to those in need.”

Some individual wineries, such as Bella Luna Estate Winery, put out offers of help on social media for everything from equipment to trucks to a place to crash, while many expressed their sympathies.

Jean Hoefliger — winemaker at Robin Baggett’s Alpha Omega Winery in Napa as well as consulting winemaker at its sister winery in Edna Valley, Tolosa Winery — told Wines and Vines that the fear is not for the vintage, but for those affected by the fires. “The tragedy is about people, and I think right now it’s about helping and saving people,” he said.

Rubble and ashes are almost all that remain on this street in Santa Rosa, Oct. 10, 2017. Residents of the Fountaingrove neighborhood had little warning in the fast moving fire.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling Northern California wildfires that have killed at least 13 people. The fires are among the deadliest in California history.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com or on Twitter or Instagram @sallybuffalo.

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