Wildfires have been raging across the West Coast for weeks now, and our beloved California wine country is the most recent victim. Known as the Glass Fire, the natural disaster has spread across 36,236 acres in Napa Valley and Sonoma County, burning thousands of acres and leaving irreversible damage in its wake. Since September 27, 2020, dozen of homes, businesses, wineries, and wedding venues have been fully or partially destroyed by an uncontrollable blaze. Among those properties affected are popular local wedding venues Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort, and Meadowood Napa Valley, which are both pictured below.
Our hearts hurt for both our community and our industry.
"Our hearts hurt for both our community and our industry," Napa Valley wedding planner Stephanie Cole of Cole Drake Events tells Brides. "In addition, to a loss of homes and iconic wineries, two of our favorite resorts in our own backyard, Meadowood and Calistoga Ranch, have sustained major damage."
In addition, to a loss of homes and iconic wineries, two of our favorite resorts in our own backyard, Meadowood and Calistoga Ranch, have sustained major damage.
For bride Rachel L. Grider of Wisconsin, Napa Valley was supposed to be the backdrop of her November "I dos" and committing to the locale was an easy choice. "Like many who travel there, my fiancé and I are huge food and wine and enthusiasts and Napa delivers on both. We knew we wanted to do a destination event and felt like our wedding would be an amazing opportunity to share this special place with our friends and families," she says. "My heart goes out to everyone affected by these fires."
Although Grider and her fiancé chose to postpone their nuptials indefinitely, they'll return to Napa to tie the knot whenever it is safe to do so. "We know Napa is where we will say I do and when it’s safe to ask people to travel, we’ll go forward."
While, right now, the Glass Fire may seem like yet another blow in an already tough year, it's also a time to remember what 2020 has taught us thus far: The wedding industry knows how to rally together. Napa Valley and Sonoma County—including the people and heroic firefighters there, as well as our wedding industry friends and the stunning properties we hold dear—need our help. Wondering how you can do your part from miles away? We are, too, which is why we quickly called our friends at Visit Napa Valley and asked what we (and you!) can do to help.
"The health and safety of our staff, neighbors, and visitors is our highest concern. Visit Napa Valley is thankful for the work CalFire and other first responders are doing to keep residents and visitors safe, and our hearts go out to the families who are impacted," Lisa Poppen, the vice president of marketing and communications at Visit Napa Valley, tells Brides. "The Napa Valley appreciates the offers of support, and we ask that donations be directed to the Napa Valley Community Foundation. You can also purchase Napa Valley wine.”
Below, more on how to join the relief effort. Whether you're donating to the following relief funds, buying wine online, or simply sharing an encouraging message on Instagram, it might just be the most impactful action you make today.
4 Disaster Relief Funds to Consider Donating To
The quickest way to support Napa Valley residents and businesses during this time is through monetary donations. Here, four organizations currently accepting financial gifts that will actively aid in relief efforts—from serving meals to evacuees, to offering temporary shelter, to preparing to rebuild.
Founded in 1987, the California Fire Foundation provides emotional and financial support to firefighters, their families, and the communities they serve. The non-profit also administers the Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program, which provides immediate, yet short-term relief to victims of wildfires and other natural disasters in California.
Through the SAVE program, frontline firefighters hand out gift cards (valued at $250 each) directly to fire victims so they can purchase basic necessities such as food, clothing, or short-term shelter. During the Camp and Woolsey fires in 2018, the California Fire Foundation distributed over 10,000 SAVE cards—totaling over $2.6 million.
To donate to the California Fire Foundation, click here.
Considered an "engine for good," the Napa Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) provides much-needed funds to non-profits in the region. In response to the wildfires, the NVCF launched a disaster relief fund to provide immediate assistance to victims of the natural disaster. Currently, the disaster relief fund is aiding local organizations Aldea, Community Action Napa Valley, Cope Family Center, Fair Housing Napa Valley, Salvation Army, and UpValley Family Centers. Since the fund was established in 2014, the foundation has distributed more than $25 million for both relief and recovery in the wake of various natural disasters.
To donate to the Napa Valley Community Foundation, click here.
Created by the Redwood Credit Union in 2013, the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund promotes financial well-being in the community and supports local victims of natural disasters. Now, the community fund is seeking financial donations to assist both fire survivors and relief efforts.
As of September 28, 2020, the nonprofit has received nearly $84,000—all of which has gone directly to victim residents of Sonoma, Marin, Napa, and Lake counties and other nonprofit relief organizations.
To donate to the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund, click here.
The Golden State Division of Salvation Army is currently helping with the wildfire response in the region. Their Emergency Disaster Services teams cook and deliver meals to those displaced by the disaster via mobile kitchens or canteens. When the wildfires first erupted in the region in August, the Salvation Army provided about 100 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for the evacuees in the area.
To donate to The Salvation Army Golden State Division, click here.
8 Wineries to Support by Shopping Online
Need wine for your upcoming engagement party, rehearsal dinner, wedding—or even if you just want to fill your at-home bar? Consider purchasing your bottles from local wineries. Below, we've listed eight wineries you can support by buying their wines online.
- Castello di Amorosa: While famed Napa Valley castle winery Castello di Amorosa is still standing, the winery's farmhouse was destroyed by the Glass Fire, per The Chronicle.
- Chateau Boswell: The well-known, 41-year-old winery was destroyed on Sep. 27. The property is just one of a few private, family-owned wineries in the region.
- Fairwinds Estate Winery: Located in Calistoga, CA, most of the winery and tasting room were seriously damaged by the fire. "We hope to get creative and find ways to show you our wines in some other way on the property soon," reads their website, which also reported that all winery employees were safe.
- Failla Wines: According to Wine Spectator, firefighters battled flames at the St. Helena winery on Sept. 28. By the afternoon, however, owner Ehren Jordan reported all structures were still intact.
- Hourglass Winery: The Calistoga, CA-based winery suffered extensive damage following Sep. 27 wildfire rampage. "It’s hard to say what the true damage is," revealed winemaker Anthony Biagi. "The fire burned through our Blueline vineyard adjacent to Calistoga Ranch."
- HUNNICUTT: "We are still standing," reads HUNNICUTT Wine's website. The Glass Fire did reach the property, however, firefights were able to protect the main building.
- Sterling Vineyards: While the Calistoga property was evacuated prior to the fires, the damage is still being assessed at the vineyard.
- Tofanelli Family Vineyard: This historic winery suffered extensive damage. Owner Vince Tofanelli told The Chronicle that "many of the grapevines, planted in 1929, were also destroyed."
How to Support These Communities Now—And In The Future
From couples who chose to wed at venues such as Meadowood and Calistoga Ranch to newlyweds who have honeymooned or traveled in the area, one thing is certain: Napa Valley and Sonoma County are two treasured destinations.
Napa Valley wedding photographer Amanda Crean reminds us, "Our beautiful valley one of resilience. It is more important now than ever, given the crisis we’ve endured because of the pandemic, that we can continue to show the world what makes Napa Valley one of the best places in the world to visit."
While the Glass Fire just started on Sunday, we are sure there will be additional ways to support this community once the fire is contained. So, while we encourage you to take the above actions right now, remember this is just the beginning. The best gift you can give the region and the residents that make wine country so great is to support them as they rebuild and travel to the area once it's back—stronger and better than ever!