As of this writing, the fires in and around Napa and Sonoma are still raging strong. As a result of the fast moving fires due to dry conditions and strong winds, nearly 200,000 acres have been torched, entire neighborhoods have been burned to the ground and most tragically, 31 people have died. When devastation hits a region like this, many of us wonder, ‘how can I help?’
Here are 3 ways you can help those affected by the Napa and Sonoma Fires
1. Buy Napa and Sonoma Wine Now
It’s no secret that wine is the life blood of the region. The wine industry in Napa and Sonoma together employ over 100,000 people and is worth more than $27 billion to the local economy. A majority of wineries are small, family owned and produce less than 10,000 cases per year. Even though not all wineries have been directly affected by the fires, many winery employees have lost their homes.
- What is important to them? Buying their wine. And, when I say buy wine, I mean, go crazy. Don’t buy a bottle, buy a case (or five, or ten). Stock up to buy wine for holiday gifts, stock up your cellar, or better yet… send the wine to me to help stock up MY cellar. I don’t care why you buy it, or where you store it, just do it.
- Give the wineries the personal comfort in knowing that the demand for their wine is still high by calling them up, and placing an order. If they don’t answer, have patience, they’ll be back up and running soon and happy to take orders. If you have the capacity to store wine, placing a large order is one of the best ways to show your support. If you need any suggestion on wineries to buy from, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to share with you all of my favorites.
2. Do Not Be Scared of the 2017 and 2018 Vintages
When a tragedy like this affects a wine growing region, consumers often worry about whether the quality of wine will dip in the current and future vintages. Well, here are some thoughts. It is estimated in the areas affected by the fire that 90% of the grapes have already been harvested. Winemakers aren’t too worried about the grapes still hanging since the fruit is so mature. They’re not too sure, however, how the smoke will affect any of the wine currently going through fermentation – so we’ll have to wait and see. That said, our guess is that there will be numerous fantastic Napa and Sonoma wines coming from the 2017 vintage.
- What about next year’s vintage? If history is any predictor, wine from this vintage actually may be amazing! Part of the reason I say this is based upon tasting a number of vintages of Hawk and Horse Vineyards, a small family owned winery slightly north of Napa. In the last few years, Hawk and Horse has had to deal with two different fires right by their vineyards. Both crept right up to the edge of the vines after harvest. We’ve tasted the vintage right after one of the two fires, and do you know what? It was fantastic! So, if history and our palettes are any guide, we’re not worried.
- As this amazing wine region recovers from the devastating fires, don’t be afraid about the quality of the next few vintages. The industry now more than ever needs the support of its fans, and if history is any guide, there should be great wines coming out from Napa and Sonoma in 2017 and 2018.
3. Help in the Way You Would For Any Disaster
While buying wine is great, and will keep the region on its feet, there are the obvious ways to have an impact on the entire region, not just the key to its economic well-being. For example, consider making donations. With a great need, there are a plethora of organizations* looking to help.
- Give money: If you’re going to donate, if possible, give money to an organization rather than supplies. Donations like clothing, food and water can be expensive to transport and may not be what the charity needs most. Giving money directly to a charity allows them to determine which items are most needed.
- Donate locally and avoid professional fundraisers: Many professional fundraisers take a significant amount of every dollar donated as a fee. If you want your money to go the furthest, donate directly to an organization.
- Volunteer your time: If you live near Napa and Sonoma, consider volunteering your time. You can sign up directly with the Red Cross here.
- Adopt a pet: If this interests you, please check out animal shelters in and around Napa and Sonoma.
To all of our friends in Napa and Sonoma, we wish you all the best as you struggle through these devastating fires. We know you’ll come back stronger than ever. And, we can’t wait to drink more of your amazing wines.
* Please do your homework before donating to any organization. Some organization are more reputable than others.
- Burned Bottles: Newsweek
- Destruction in Coffey Park: The New York Times
- Melted bottles: The New York Times
- Signorello Estate: The New York Times