What a fortnight we have had here in California Wine Country. Just two weeks ago I was going about my business and saw a couple of news posts on my Wine Business Monthly Daily Update about fires in Sonoma and Napa counties. From there I came to learn how extensive, powerful and destructive those fires would be. Many people have lost their homes, their businesses, their jobs and some have even lost loved ones. With the devastation there has been an outpouring of support and donations to disaster relief efforts. If you are looking for ways to help, please consider one of these options:
Visit the Wine Country: The Northern California wine country is known for its beauty and excellent wine country hospitality. It is just as vibrant as always, and they need you visiting, staying overnight, touring the wineries, and dining in the restaurants. If you are thinking the wine country is destroyed, think again. I visited last Wednesday and it was a beautiful fall day and wine country was definitely open for business.
American Red Cross: The Red Cross is currently asking for donations, which you can give online at www.redcross.org/
Volunteers are also needed, and becoming a trained American Red Cross volunteer can be useful today and into the future. I completed my introductory courses and now am learning about ways I can help. To learn about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, click here.
Salvation Army: I also recommend considering giving donations to the Salvation Army, which has been supporting many of the evacuation centers and recovery efforts, http://www.
While I posted earlier about immediate ways to help (visit my past blog post here), we are luckily in the recovery stage, where the needs are different.
Many articles have been written about ways to help, and I believe Alder Yarrow at Vinography did an excellent job this past weekend of creating a thorough list of fundraising efforts. To view his posting, please visit the Vinography blog. Here's a copy of his list:
In the days since the fires began, numerous fundraising efforts sprang up using sites such as GoFundMe.Com, enough so that these giving sites created pages collecting these efforts into a single spot. I've been supporting one created by my friend Kimberly Charles, who runs a wine PR firm. She's been collecting money and then either buying goods and bringing them to shelters, or buying amazon and target gift cards to bring to aid organizations in Sonoma and Napa. One note of caution with regards to this method of giving: anyone can set up a GoFundMe page, so please do some checking to make sure that the organizer is above board and a legitimate victim of the fire or a responsible individual that will put your donation to good use.
The wine community has rallied, as they always do, with an amazing sense of solidarity. Several events have been organized to raise funds, perhaps the most impressive of which is a collection of winemakers and sommeliers who are putting on events in California and New York that I highly encourage you to attend. They are also looking for donations of wine that they will sell at the event with 100% of the proceeds going to fire relief.