Wildfire Relief: How to Help – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Wildfire Relief: How to Help


Photo by AP Photo/Noah Berger

The 2020 fire season in California has already been devastating to Napa and Sonoma Counties, the heart of the American wine industry. Several prominent wineries have been lost, and many producers in the region fear they will not be able to produce a 2020 vintage, due to loss of vines or facilities or damage to grapes tainted by the pervasive smoke. The knock-on effects for the community are staggering, with tens of thousands of jobs at risk, from vineyard managers to grape-picking teams.

We have compiled a short list of organizations who are doing the on-the-ground work to get financial and food support to those most in need, as well as groups who are working to protect the land now and in the future. If you are wondering how you can help, we recommend a) buying wines from Napa and Sonoma and b) contributing to these dedicated organizations.

Napa Valley Community Foundation

The NVCF works side-by-side with local donors and nonprofits to tackle current challenges in Napa Valley. Right now, the focus is on direct aid to those affected by both the fires and COVID-19.

Corazón Healdsburg

Corazón Healdsburg operates a bilingual resource center in Healdsburg and offers family support programs, education for all ages, financial guidance, legal assistance and emergency response. Following the 2019 Kincade Fire, the organization started the Unity & Community Fund to provide financial support, housing, replacement items and additional resources to those affected. The fund has expanded its scope in 2020 to include pandemic-related support in addition to aid related to the current fires.

Latino Community Foundation California Wildfire Relief Fund

A significant part of the labor for harvest and other year-round vine and wine work is provided by the Latino community, many of whom have no safety net to rely on during crises like the current wildfires. The Latino Community Foundation acts as a centralized nexus for dispersing funds to specialized local organizations supporting families displaced by the fires.

Calistoga Firefighter’s Association

Calistoga has seen some of the fiercest flames in the recent fires. The town’s Firefighter’s Association raises most of its funds for equipment, training and direct aid to fire victims at an annual bingo fundraiser. Though they don’t have a web portal for donations, contributions are welcome by check: P.O. Box 786, Calistoga, CA 94515.

Angwin Volunteer Fire Department

Just northeast of Calistoga, on Howell Mountain, Angwin has been at the center of the Glass Fire, and the town’s fire station is in need of some major repairs, which must all be funded by donations.

Redwood Empire Food Bank

Established in 1987, REFB is the largest hunger-relief organization serving north coastal California, from Sonoma County to the Oregon border. Through their Food Connections Office, Food Connections Market, Groceries to Go program and Produce Pantry, REFB responds to the immediate needs of people seeking help through the provision of healthy food and nutrition education.

Community Action of Napa Valley Food Bank

This food pantry network offers low-income residents of Napa County an allotment of food from one of seven locations every 30 days. Based on household size, allotments consist of meat, dairy, produce and dry and canned food items. Pantries are located in the City of Napa, Calistoga, St. Helena, Lake Berryessa, Pope Valley, Angwin and American Canyon. Together, they serve more than 1,000 local households each month.

One Tree Planted

This global organization works on reforestation and forest management. For every dollar donated, they plant one tree. From its website: “Five years of drought and a large-scale bark beetle infestation have seriously damaged California’s forests. 2017’s record-breaking wildfire season burned more than 1.3 million acres – an area the size of Delaware. 2020’s fire season has consumed more than 4 million acres, resulting in hundreds of millions of trees that will need to be restored.”

As a retail buyer, Susannah traveled abroad extensively, especially in Italy and Greece, to learn the stories behind her favorite wines and then connect others with the vines and the humans that make them. She is excited to join W&S, since that is the magazine’s mission. Raised to be curious, she finds, after over 20 years in the world of food and wine, that she loves best how wine touches so many disciplines—history, language, geology, cuisine, biology, horticulture—keeping the quest for knowledge fresh every day.


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