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Northwest Wine Lovers Raise Funds For Fire-Ravaged California Wineries

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Aerial view of smoke from the Tubbs and Pocket fires which ravaged parts of Northern California's wine county in October.

October's California wine country wildfires damaged more than 30 wineries. Now, the Northwest wine industry and wine drinkers are stepping up to with their wallets to help.

Soon after the smoke cleared, a winemaker in Oregon’s Willamette Valley took to Facebook to offer short-term employment, room and board to ten cellar workers displaced by California’s wildfires. Days later, 60 Oregon wineries organized a fundraiser that brought in $35,000.

Meanwhile, Seattle-based sommelier David LeClaire convinced colleagues in Washington to donate their most special bottles from personal collections. The fundraiser brought in $15,000.

“The industry professionals were willing to not get a write off, but really just dig into their personal reserves and give up really cool wines that they maybe saved for 10 or 15 years, because they were so touched by what was happening,” LeClaire said.

And there’s more: an alliance of wineries near Washington’s Tri-Cities donated ten percent of wine sales to three relief funds over one weekend in October.

Because most of Northern California’s grapes had already been harvested before the wildfires broke out, wine industry insiders do not expect to taste smoke in this year’s vintage. However, many wineries were forced to shut their doors during a busy tourist season.