Support for Survivors of Valley Fire Evident from Across North Coast Region
Kelseyville, Calif. October 2, 2015. – Organizers of the #LakeCountyRising fundraising effort report that approximately $275,000 has been raised in the first 12 days since launching the campaign, which was created to support rebuilding efforts in the communities devastated by the Valley Fire.
Organizers of several well-attended events – one in Washington D.C. and one in Napa this week, and one in Sonoma County the prior week – have contributed to the cause.
“While we are still tallying donations from this week’s benefits, it is apparent that momentum is building for this local campaign,” said Bill Groody, board member of the Lake County Wine Alliance, one of three organizations who initiated the #LakeCountyRising fundraising effort.
One of the recent events, a Valley Fire Relief Benefit organized by Michelle and Robin Baggett, owners of Alpha Omega Winery in Rutherford, in partnership with Darioush Winery, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery and the Napa Valley Film Festival, raised $100,000 with half of that going to #LakeCountyRising and half to UpValley Family Center.
“Tragedy knows no borders,” said Alpha Omega Vintner Michelle Baggett. “Many workers in Napa County – from our hospitals and schools to local businesses – live in the next county.”
“We’re so grateful to see such broad community and industry support,” said Debra Sommerfield, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission.
Andy Beckstoffer of Beckstoffer Vineyards helped jumpstart the effort with a $50,000 donation, and others in the wine industry also have jumped in, from individuals to wineries to grapegrower organizations.
Barry Hoffner, president of the Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak Winegrowers Association, a small newly established appellation in Sonoma County, was one of the first to call in with a pledge of support. “We wanted to do what we can to help,” Hoffner said.
“People from all across the region are really stepping up,” Sommerfield said. “Many of them know someone – a friend, family member or co-worker – who lost everything. They really feel the impact and know that it will take some hard work for these communities to recover. They’re eager to contribute.”
Also among the first contributors was Rutherford-based Honig Vineyard & Winery. “Our family and staff are heartbroken to see so many of our neighbors suffering,” said Michael Honig, whose winery donated $10,000. “We felt it was important to donate so the community could start to rebuild. We hope that other individuals and businesses will follow our lead and contribute as much as possible to help those who have lost so much.”
The board of the Oakville Winegrowers Association also stepped up, voting unanimously to make a donation to the fire relief efforts, according to Tom Garrett, president of the association.
“Our board was compelled to contribute to the rebuilding process for Lake County and felt a local organization, such as Lake County Rising, would be best-suited for understanding the needs of the community and for keeping the majority of contributed funds in the county,” Garrett said.
Peter Molnar, general manager and partner of Obsidian Ridge Vineyards and Tricycle Wine Partners, which also donated to the cause, said, “We have been a proud member of the winegrowing community in Lake County for 17 years, and we are moved by the devastating losses suffered by our neighbors. We have also been inspired by the people of Lake County who have come together in these last three weeks to support those most affected.”