More than 500 people gathered on November 21, 2017 in a scenic vineyard straddling the Napa-Sonoma County line to enjoy a meal together and raise funds for wildfire relief. First responders, chefs, winemakers, tourism officials, and many others gave time, energy, and money to help those impacted by the October blazes.
Visit California and Outstanding in the Field—along with host Tyler Florence and destination partners Visit Napa Valley, Sonoma County Tourism, and Visit Mendocino County—sponsored the event, called The Grateful Table. By all accounts, it was a very special day.
“This was the dream—to have this beautiful autumnal day right on the 50-yard line between Napa and Sonoma and to be able to do something really, really special,” Tyler Florence said as he surveyed the Domaine Chandon property. “These are our friends, these are our colleagues, these are our neighbors, these are firemen who risked their lives to save strangers.”
Jim Denevan, founder of Outstanding in the Field, echoed those sentiments: “This has been an incredible opportunity to help,” he said. “For Visit California to enable an event where 100 percent of the proceeds goes to fire relief is pretty incredible. It’s a big group of chefs, an incredible number of contributors, that made this happen.”
Indeed, contributions of all sorts streamed in from every corner of the state. The California Cut Flower Commission provided centerpieces for the event and asked farmers to contribute what they could.
“They gave—everybody up and down the state gave,” said Kasey Cronquist, the commission’s CEO/Ambassador. “All the way up in Arcata in Northern California down to San Diego, the flowers just started coming in. And it was an honor for them. You can’t underestimate the generosity of people. That’s what I learned through this.”
Multiple breweries and wineries donated beverages, and were thrilled to do so. “It’s wonderful to see the community coming together,” said Joe Seta from the North Coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg. "It’s now, who can raise more money and serve each other better—that’s the competition we’re loving to see now.”
Attendees shared personal stories throughout the day, recounting harrowing tales but also marveling at the state’s resilient spirit.
“What’s been amazing to me is to see how much this community has rallied to support those individuals who lost everything,” said Joe Bartolomei, owner of the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville. “Personally, I know over 100 families that lost their homes. We always knew that Wine Country was a tightknit community but we’re really seeing our true colors—and they’re fantastic.“
Chris Cosentino, the Top Chef Masters champion who runs the restaurant Acacia House at Las Alcabas hotel in St. Helena, had a front-row seat to the early relief efforts: “We opened the hotel and the restaurant for seven days to first responders and people in need, giving them a place to stay, to take a shower, to rest,” he said. “We fed 175 people three meals a day and whatever we had left when up and over the hill to Santa Rosa.”
Now that the danger is past and Wine Country is open for business, Cosentino wants visitors to do their part.
“Napa is still here,” he said. “Don’t cancel your weddings. Don’t cancel your reservations. Come out for a trip. Enjoy yourself. Spend some time—get out here.
Tanya Holland, owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, shared a similar message.
“If you’re thinking of coming to California, please come to this area,” she said. “This is one of our treasures. I feel so fortunate to live this close to this area. It’s almost like going back in history. These vines are as old as this state—as this country—there’s beautiful food and wine here and the people are amazing. Please come support Sonoma and Napa.”
There are many other charitable events worthy of your consideration, including Rise Up Sonoma, a December 3 fundraising dinner in Santa Rosa that brings together world-class Sonoma County wineries, talented chefs, and music stars to benefit those deeply affected by the wildfires. Participating restaurants include Glen Ellen Star, El Molino Central, Girl and the Fig, and Zazu Kitchen + Farm. Seats are limited so get your tickets today.
In addition to visiting, you can still make a donation to fire recovery efforts in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties through any of the following links:
- Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund
- Sonoma County Resilience Fund
- Mendocino County Disaster Fund
- California Restaurant Association Foundation
To stay up to date, follow #CaliforniaWineCountryNow and #SipSavorSupport
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*Charitable donations may be tax deductible. Consult your tax professional.
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