Last week, even as they nervously watched ribbons of smoke streaming down the ridge of the Mayacamas Mountains toward the valley below, Napa Valley winery owners were already pitching in to help their neighbors.
On Thursday, Hall Wines owners Craig and Kathryn Hall offered to put up as much as $100,000 for the North Bay Fire Relief fund. As of Monday, the campaign pulled in another $100,000. Supporting nonprofit organizations providing emergency relief to wildfire victims, the fund is administered locally by the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund. The St. Helena winery will match contributor donations one-to-one (much like the matching donations familiar to public radio listeners—remember when, only a month ago, radio pledge drives were among our more grinding campaigns of endurance?). Find the link to donate at the Hall Wines website or Facebook page.
Going bigger, California's mega-family-winery E&J Gallo has promised to pony up $1 million for American Red Cross California Wildfires Relief Fund, the Community Foundation of Sonoma and the Napa Valley Community Foundation.
Meanwhile on the north side of Sonoma Plaza, which was evacuated when the fire threatened to sweep down from Lovall Valley Road, the Hall's WALT Wines has opened for winetasting—all fees donated to fire relief. 380 First St. W., Sonoma. 707.933.4440.
In Healdsburg, town leaders and businesses plan to agree upon a citywide tasting room donation effort in the coming weeks. Those who can think as far out as Nov. 18 can put Sonoma Cider's 100 percent benefit music festival on the calendar. Bands include the Highway Poets, Timothy O'Neil, Second Line, Token Girl and Frobeck.
If it's the harder stuff you're hankering for—and who'd blame you—Sebastopol's Spirit Works Distillery worked over the weekend to bottle 35 cases of cask-strength "Sonoma Strength" wheat whiskey. At over 116 proof, this tipple is strong—Sonoma strong. All proceeds from each $79 bottle benefit local funds, including North Bay Fire Relief and the Sonoma County Resilience Fund. "We started selling it before we even finished bottling it," says Spirit Works co-founder Timo Marshall, who cooked up the benefit bottle idea with staff members. The distillery will be open regular hours, Wednesday–Sunday, 11am–5pm, at 6790 McKinley St. #100 (in the Barlow), Sebastopol. 707.634.4793.
And since just making it through the past two weeks is cause for celebration, charity-driven Breathless Wines is popping the corks on their North Coast bubbly through November to offer a complimentary glass of sparkling wine to their Sonoma County neighbors who want to come in and share stories. "With this, and the holidays, we are going to need it," says co-founder Sharon Cohn. 499 Moore Lane, Healdsburg. Thursday–Tuesday, 11am–6pm. 707.395.7300.