Log In / Join Now

California Fires: How You Can Help

Relief efforts are being organized to help Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino residents who have lost homes and businesses

Posted: October 11, 2017

For a more up-to-date roundup of charity benefits and happenings for California fire victims, please visit our most recent coverage.

Updated Oct. 17

The wildfires in California started late Oct. 8 and are still ripping through wine country, including Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties. Wine Spectator is providing regular updates of charitable efforts to aid recovery in the region.

This roundup includes actions you can take remotely, charity efforts and events in local communities nationwide, and generous donations made by businesses in the wine industry.

How You Can Help from Anywhere

The Napa Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) is reviving the Disaster Relief Fund it established for the 2014 Napa earthquake. The NVCF will be coordinating with the Napa Valley Community Organizations Active in Disaster, a coalition that the foundation put together to help nonprofits efficiently communicate and act together in an emergency. The groups will also work with local governments and other leaders in the nonprofit sector, both to assess urgent needs and put in place a plan for longer-term recovery. Donations to the fund can be made at NapaValleyCF.org.

The foundation will also be distributing grants to local charities who are responding to the ongoing fires. This is in continuing with the work that the NVCF already does, connecting donors to worthwhile charities and supporting projects that help the Napa County community as a whole.


Other funds for affected counties have been established to aid recovery, such as the Sonoma County Resilience Fund and the Community Foundation of Mendocino County.


The Red Cross has been providing shelter for those who've been forced to evacuate their homes. So far, they have accommodated 2,000 people across 20 Red Cross and community shelters in California. They are also providing food and health-care services. Donations can be made at RedCross.org.


The home-sharing service Airbnb has launched their Airbnb Open Homes program, which is connecting volunteer hosts in California who are offering their homes as shelter for free until Oct. 30. To sign up to be a volunteer host or if you need shelter, visit Airbnb.com.


The California Association of Food Banks told Wine Spectator that two of their food banks have been affected by the fires, but are still accepting cash donations: the Redwood Empire Food Bank and the Community Action of Napa Valley Food Bank. Others helping with recovery include the following: SF-Marin Food Bank, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Yolo Food Bank, Fort Bragg Food Bank, Yuba-Sutter Food Bank, Alameda County Community Food Bank and California Emergency Foodlink.


The fund-raising platform GoFundMe has launched a centralized hub where potential donors can search for individuals and charities that are directly impacted by the wildfires, or are helping with aid, respectively. You can browse campaigns and make donations at GoFundMe.com.


Kathryn and Craig Hall of Hall winery are pitching in to raise money for the North Bay Fire Relief Fund, which is administered by the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund. They will match every donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000. You can donate via their Facebook page.


Acker Merrall & Condit has announced that it will be donating a portion of its proceeds from its Friday, Oct. 13, auction to Northern California relief programs, as well as a portion of October online retail sales. The auction, which will be held at Zuma in New York, will have nearly 1,150 lots, comprising big-name California producers like Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, Hundred Acre and Colgin. While the beneficiaries of this fund-raising effort have yet to be announced, in the meantime, the auction house is recommending individual donations be directed to the American Red Cross and United Way of the Wine Country.


The city of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County was among the most affected by the wildfires, with many homes destroyed and residents displaced. The city has set up a fund for the victims on YouCaring.com.


Livermore Valley has been spared from any wildfires so far, and now the region's vintners are helping out their neighbors with a collective fund-raising effort. Through Oct. 15, wineries in Livermore will be collecting donations to distribute to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, the Community Foundation of Sonoma County Resilience Fund and the Community Foundation of Mendocino County Disaster Fund. On top of this, more than a dozen wineries will be donating a portion of their tasting-room sales to the funds. For more details and a full list of participating wineries, visit the Livermore Valley Wine Country website.


The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance will also be donating to the three relief funds above. Through Oct. 31, nearly 50 wineries will be donating $1 per bottle of wine sold. For more details and a full list of participating wineries, visit PasoWine.com.


The Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation announced that it is setting up a relief fund of its own, where 100 percent of the proceeds donated will go to the Red Cross of Northern California, the United Way of the Wine Country and the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. Donations can be made at WomenoftheVine.com.


The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation is partnering with Direct Relief and has created a fund-raising page on the DirectRelief.org website where people can donate to the organization.


Grassini winery in Santa Barbara is donating $1 for every bottle of wine sold through Nov. 15 to the Direct Relief fund mentioned above.


Flying Goat winery in Santa Barbara is donating $10 for every bottle of Pinot Noir Salisbury Vineyard 2011 ($38) sold, through Oct. 31, to the Direct Relief fund. You can purchase the wine on their website.


Drew Bledsoe, former NFL quarterback and owner of Washington's Double Back winery, will donate 100 percent of his wine sales to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund through Oct. 21. You can purchase the estate's wines at DoubleBack.com.


Iron Horse has released a new limited-production cuvée called Gratitude, a 2012 sparkling rosé. The bottle costs $65, and $5 will be donated to the Redwood Empire Food Bank for each bottle sold. In addition, the winery will be donating a portion of their tasting-room sales.


Vintner Jean-Charles Boisset and his team at Raymond in Napa Valley will be releasing Honoris, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa and Sonoma fruit from the 2016 vintage. The wine costs $75 and will ship this coming December; 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Napa Valley Community Foundation, the Sonoma County Community Foundation Resilience Fund and Bay Area Firefighters and Families.


Wine and spirits giant Southern Glazer's has launched a GoFundMe campaign, benefiting the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the Sonoma County Community Foundation Resilience Fund. They will match employee donations up to $100,000. To donate, visit their GoFundMe.com page.

How You Can Help Locally

For the month of October, Charleston Grill in South Carolina has created a new by-the-glass wine list with only California wines. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the Sonoma County Community Foundation Resilience Fund. The selection includes pours from Saintsbury, Hahn, Orin Swift, Araujo and Mayacamas, among many others. General manager Mickey Bakst is encouraging other restaurants across the country in joining Charleston Grill in this effort.


Chef Dominique Crenn has jumped in to help those displaced by the ongoing fires. If you're in the San Francisco area, you can volunteer to make sandwiches at both Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn. The restaurants are also accepting food donations as ingredients for the sandwiches.


On top of the Livermore Valley's fund-raising, more than a dozen wineries in the wine region will be donating a portion of their tasting-room sales to the funds. For more details and a full list of participating wineries, visit the Livermore Valley Wine Country website.


Businesses across California, including winery tasting rooms, restaurants, hotels and breweries, are organizing a #CAWineStrong campaign. Partners have committed to donating a portion of their proceeds throughout the month of October; a full list of participants that you can visit can be found at CAWineStrong.com. The money will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, the Sonoma County Resilience Fund and the Community Foundation of Mendocino County.


Journy, an online luxury travel agency, is offering a four-day excursion to Santa Barbara wine country with Dustin Wilson, former Eleven Madison Park wine director and Master Sommelier. The trip will take place Nov. 8-11 and costs $3,000 a person. The funds will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. You can book this trip via the event's Eventbrite.com page.


Rebelle wine director Patrick Cappiello, California vintner Pax Mahle and Bergamot Alley beverage director Sara Morgenstern have launched Winemakers & Sommeliers for California Wildfire Relief (WSCWR). The group, in partnership with the CA Wine Strong initiative, the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief and the Napa Valley Community Foundation, will be holding three events at the end of the month to fund-raise for wildfire victims.

The first ($50) will be held Oct. 25 at Bergamot Alley in Healdsburg, Calif., followed by a tasting and auction ($100) at Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco Oct. 26, and an event ($50) at Corkbuzz in New York City Oct. 27. For more information about the group, participating wineries and restaurants, and to purchase tickets, visit WSCWR.com.


In addition to Kathryn and Craig Hall's fund-raising efforts for the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund, Hall and Walt wineries are reopening their St. Helena, Rutherford and Sonoma tasting rooms Oct. 17 and will be donating 100 percent of the tasting-room fees to the fund.

How Wine Companies Are Helping

California's E. & J. Gallo, which has already been very generous this hurricane season, is donating $1 million toward recovery. The proceeds will be sent to the American Red Cross California Wildfires Relief Fund, the Community Foundation of Sonoma and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. In addition to this, the company will be matching employee donations $2-to-$1.


Treasury Wine Estates, whose Stags' Leap Winery and Chateau St. Jean properties have both been damaged in the fires, are committing $100,000 to recovery efforts. They will donate $50,000 to both the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the Sonoma County Community Foundation Resilience Fund.


Trinchero Family Estates has donated $250,000 to the Napa Valley Community Foundation. They will also match employee donations $2-for-$1 to its Family in Need Fund, which is set up specifically for Trinchero employees who have been affected by the fires.


California-based wine retailer Soutirage hosted a benefit Oct. 15 at Vaucluse in New York City. A silent auction, which included a vertical of Hirsch Vineyards, a magnum of 2008 Pétrus and a magnum of 2006 Araujo Eisele Vineyard, raised $6,500. The money will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, the Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority and the Napa County Fire Department.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.