Ways to Help-#WineCountryStrong


Photo taken from the hills behind Gundlach Bundschu

To write about wine while the wine country burns feels wrong to me.

And yet finding the words to do the tragedy justice seems impossible.

When I look at the devastation, see what has been taken, how can I adequately respond? When I start to realize the enormity of the situation, all words seem trite.

Each photo elicits the same few words: devastating, heartbreaking, unbelievable.

Each new days brings more reports of loss and not enough containment and evacuations.

Each feed brings different reports of heartache and heroism, of loss and resilience.

It is a place that I’ve never called home, but every time I visit, it sure feels like one. It is home for many friends and for my father-in-law. It is the heart of our country’s wine industry, a place where people dream of living. A place where people have spent their lives making dreams come true. And it is burning.

While the major media outlets have not kept up with the changing conditions, those living there have. I am grateful for the timely reports, for the first-responders risking their lives, and for the citizens of Sonoma and Napa banding together to get through this unimaginable tragedy.

Those same voices reporting the latest news are also gathering information about needs and opportunities. Many thanks to Elaine Chukan Brown, Sarah Stierch, and Thea Dwelle for the reporting and compiling information. Follow them to keep abreast of the changing conditions and needs. Currently, here are a few of the ways you can help.

  1. These people and wineries need our continued support through purchasing their wine. I’ll be highlighting Sonoma and Napa wines with reposts and new articles.
  2. The first responders need us to STAY AWAY, for now. If you have evacuated, put a note on your door. Get out, stay out.
  3. As we experienced in Harvey, too many donations cause storage and distribution issues. Funds are easily stored and distributed.
  4. These are a few that have been recommended:
    1. Sonoma Rotary Club
    2. Community Foundation of Sonoma
    3. Ole Health– a community health organization
    4. Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Recovery Fund
  5. Donate to and volunteer at animal shelters. They are bringing in several extra animals and need extra hands
  6. Donate to a food bank.
  7. Check with each shelter to see if there are current needs. Think basics: toothbrushes, socks, underwear, blankets, diapers, etc.

This past six weeks, the natural disasters have kept coming. Harvey, Irma, Maria. The earthquake in Mexico City. The fires in Montana, Oregon, Washington, and now California. Hear of a need? Try to meet it. Bring food to the first responders. Open your home. Advocate, make the phone calls, hold a hand. The news may have moved on, but those impacted are still in the middle of the suffering. And some losses can never be recovered.

When the last fire is put out, the most difficult work will begin. When the media coverage has moved on, we need to move in. Tourism is a big part of their livelihoods. When it is safe and they are ready, we need to return and support businesses. Keep buying their wine. Keep sharing stories. The community is strong, their spirits are stronger. Our love and support can help them when they need to be at their strongest: Rebuilding, recovering, and remembering.


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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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