Napa and Sonoma County fires have burned an estimated 200,000 acres, 5,700 homes and businesses, and claimed at least 42 lives. As firefighters reign in the devastation, the question, overwhelmingly, has become how to help. Here are some suggestions for just that: How to ensure that wineries, farmers, and families affected by the fire land on their feet.
Robert Sinskey, who operates Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa, has been getting the “how to help” question a lot, although his property survived the fires. He suggests that businesses feature the region’s wines, perhaps tying sales to charity.
“Besides property loss, most of us will lose the critical tourist [income] and smaller wineries will not be able to hit the road to sell their wares during the critical pre-holiday season,” Sinskey explains. “If we can continue to sell wine, we can continue to pay our employees and get back to ‘normal,’ as quickly as possible.”
Vintners like Sinskey are also need of supplies, from water tanks to lodging to volunteer labor. To sign up to provide short-term help, fill out this form: Information will be shared with members of the Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino wine growing and vintner associations. An online document for making arrangements to volunteer is circulating here.
Last, if you’re a small business or homeowners affected by the fire, the US Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans for declared disasters. Loans that are available include Business Physical Disaster Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and Home Disasters Loans
The Redwood Credit Union is also accepting donations to help the victims of the fires. Individuals and organizations can specify which counties to support or else their donations will be given to any affected county.
California Volunteers, organized by the Office of the Governor, has created a list of groups accepting donations of funds and items. They recommend:
Northern California Fire Fund (Northern California Grantmakers) Serving Northern California
Northern California Fire Fund (Silicon Valley Community Foundation) Serving Northern California
The Salvation Army Serving Northern California
Community Foundation of Mendocino County: Disaster Donation Page Serving Mendocino County
Community Foundation of Sonoma County: Resiliency Donation Page Serving Sonoma County
Napa Valley Community Foundation: Fire Donation Page Serving Napa County
United Way Bay Area Serving Napa County
United Way of the Wine Country Serving Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma Counties
North Bay Fire Recovery Fund Serving Lake County
North Coast Opportunities Serving Lake County
American Red Cross Serving All Counties
Center for Volunteering and Nonprofit Leadership Serving Napa and Sonoma Counties
Undocufund is raising funds for undocumented immigrants who live and work in Sonoma County. Unlike victims of the fire with citizenship, they do not qualify for FEMA assistance, so Undocufund will provide them with much-needed assistance in terms of temporary housing, home repairs, storage expenses, and even funds for funeral and burial expense.
GoFundMe has created a central California fire relief hub page, where user can find individual campaigns that vary in scope from the personal to the regional. One campaign, a general Napa and Sonoma County Fire Relief fund, has raised more than $100,000, and will divide its funds evenly between groups like the Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority, the Napa County Fire Department, and others. Another is simply for Mike and Charity Ruiz, whose lives were upended by the fire. Their home in Sonoma was destroyed, and Charity is due to deliver their third child next week. If you’d like to hedge your bets, donations to a meta, GoFundMe direct fund will distribute funds across the campaigns.
Rebuild Wine Country is a fund seeking donations for long-term Wine Country recovery. Fiscal sponsor Habitat for Humanity will use donations to begin the process of rebuilding homes that have been lost — especially for those who need them most, like elderly people and farm workers.
Heart of the Vine is a GoFundMe page that’s already exceeding its $75,000 goal and still collecting donations. The fund was established by Vintage Wine Estates and its sister wineries to help purchase gift cards and distribute them to employees, families and first responders to get basics they need.
Petit Marlow is welcoming the Withers Winery of Healdsburg on Monday, 10/23, for a wine pairing dinner. $150 per person for a four-course menu from chef Jennfier Puccio, with a portion of proceeds donated to Sonoma fire disaster relief.
Newly formed Winemakers & Sommeliers for California Wildfire Relief is rallying with a relief fund accepting both monetary donations and donated bottles of wine worth more than $100 from collectors, sommeliers, and distributors, to be sold at events for retail prices. Meanwhile, the WSCWR will host events such as one at Bergamot Alley in Healdsburg next Wednesday, 10/25, and another in San Francisco at Bluxome Street Winery on Thursday, 10/26.
Airbnb is asking that those with a roof to spare donate their home to provide emergency shelter. To encourage that, the company will waive service fees, letting hosts list their spaces for free, and launching a disaster response page so hosts can find those in need of shelter and house them at a no-cost basis.
Meal Prep and Restaurant Donation Efforts
New Delhi Restaurant in the Tenderloin will host a fundraiser on Saturday, October 28th and is accepting donations now with a target of $50,000. Proceeds from the buffet dinner that evening, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., will be donated to the relief effort Owner Ranjan Dey has started things off by donating $1,000.
Food truck organization Off The Grid is raising fire relief money on GoFundMe. “The horrific wildfires raging in several Northern California counties have affected many of our friends, partners, and colleagues in the hospitality industry,” the organization writes. They are working towards a fundraising goal of $10,000.
Elevation 66, a brewery in El Cerrito, will donate one dollar from every beer sold there to fire relief from Friday, October 13 through Sunday, October 22.
Acacia House in St. Helena is open to provide free meals to first responders, chef/owner Chris Cosentino writes.
All Good Pizza will host a Wednesday evening fundraiser on 10/18 at their Bayview pizza patio from 6 to 10 p.m.. At the event, their monthly Fire Pit Project dinner, they’ll donate all proceeds of food and drink to North Bay Fire relief and the SF Fights Fire coalition. Guest can enjoy Wine from Gratta Wine and live glass blowing.
Gather in Berkeley is donating 5 percent of all wine on tap sale proceeds to fire relief efforts through the end of the month. They’ll also host their usual Wine Wednesdays, but focusing their lists on Wednesday the 18th and Wednesday the 25th on wineries in the areas affected by the fires, and instead of the usual discounts, they’ll donate 50 percent of all wine sales to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund.
Agave Uptown in Oakland is donating 10 percent of all proceeds from now through Sunday, October 22 to support fire relief. Agave Uptown and Agave Healdsburg, owned by chef Octavio Diaz, who lives in Santa Rosa, will also be collecting and delivering supplies through next week.
The Golden Squirrel in Oakland is hosting a fundraiser raffle on Wednesday, October 18, with Growlers of Henhouse beer, bottles of Dry Creek wine, and more items available to win. Tickets are 1 for $5 or one per item donated, 3 for $10, and 5 for $20.
Russian River Brewing Co. and Bear Republic Brewing Co., two North Bay breweries, are fundraising with signature Sonoma Pride beers. For every $25 you give, they’ll also raffle you the chance to skip the line on Russian River’s 2018 Pliny the Younger release.
Buffalo Theory is hosting a beer pairing dinner on Friday, October 20th, with chef Tim Luym and the craft beer bar partnering with Good Island for the multi-course event benefitting the North Bay fire recovery effort. Six courses plus beer pairings for each for $70.
A Napa Strong benefit concert on Sunday, October 22nd with headliners Sorry Lot, Dirty Cello, Krooked, and Ordinary Sons will be held in Napa at Billco’s Billiards and Darts. $5 cover at the door and $1 from every beer will go to Napa Valley Firefighters, and a tip jar and silent auction proceeds will go to the Napa Valley Disaster Relief Fund.
The Riddler in Hayes Valley has been collecting feminine hygiene products, underwear, and sock for North Bay fire relief. They’re also donating 100% of proceeds from rosé sales this week.
The Perennial is hosting a long-planned happy hour on Thursday, 10/19 with Reeve Wines from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., but have now elected to donate 100 percent of saless to three North Bay organizations: Redwood Credit Union, Redwood Empire Food Bank, and Corazon.
New Delhi Restaurant is hosting a benefit dinner on Saturday, October 28th, with all proceeds from the 10-course Indian buffet going to fire relief.
Feastly is hosting a Sonoma Fire benefit with Smitten Ice Cream that’s showcasing Filipino-American chefs in honor of Filipino-American Heritage Month. The Menu is $45 and added donations are accepted.
The California Volunteers have created a list of recommended volunteer opportunities on their site.
American Red Cross: Sign up online
Volunteer Center of Sonoma County: Call (707) 573-3399 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Napa Community Animal Response Team: Text (707) 666-3598 or email email@example.com.
Looking beyond immediate damage repair and donations, Sinskey has another message: Consider the environment broadly. “I have said for years that vineyards are the canary it the coal mine. What we are experiencing now is what’s in store for the rest of world if we don’t move on from this carbon-based economy.”
Says Sinskey: “We need to focus on climate change and educate people to vote for the environment. It needs to be the number one issue for all eligible voting citizens.”