The devastation to the California wine industry has been huge, and the B.C. wine institute is reaching out to help. File photo

B.C. Wine Institute reaching out to California

Local industry urged to show support for colleagues affected by California wildfires

After this year’s wildfire season in B.C., it’s easy to empathize with the devastation the wine-growing regions of northern California are experiencing this week as walls of flame sweep across the landscape.

Wanting to assist their colleagues, the B.C. Wine Institute is encouraging local wineries to show their support.

“In times like these, it is more important than ever for our industry to come together and support one another,” said Christa-Lee McWatters Bond, chair of the B.C. Wine Institute. “We also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the firefighters and first responders who are working tirelessly to help those in need and bring the fires under control.”

Many in the B.C. wine industry have close ties with colleagues in California, with some even owning property in the area. Sandra Oldfield, formerly of Tinhorn Creek Winery, has family in the Santa Rosa area. She reports that her sister was evacuated late Wednesday afternoon.

“We are extremely lucky that our sister winery, Madrone Estate at Valley of the Moon is still standing, however many of their neighbours were not so fortunate,” said Tony Stewart, proprietor of Quails’ Gate Winery in Kelowna. “Our hearts are with everyone who has been impacted by the fires. The wine industry is renowned for working together and never has that been more apparent than in these frightening times.”

The Wine Institute is highlighting relief efforts where contributions can be made to help the farmers, owners and residents of the affected areas, and is encouraging fellow B.C. wineries to support their colleagues in any way possible.

“From all of your northern neighbours, stay strong California, our thoughts are with you,” said the Wine Institute in a release.

The Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund is collecting cash donations here: Fire donation page and GoFundMe pages dedicated to California fire relief can be found at this link www.gofundme.com/raise-funds/CAfirerelief .

Local animal shelters, which are helping people keep their pets safe, also need financial support: Humane Society of Sonoma County: sonomahumane.org, Humane Society of Napa County: napahumane.org, and Yuba-Sutter SPCA: yubasutterspca.org.

The Red Cross helps distribute disaster relief aid. In addition to online donations, you can also call 1-800 RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Western News’ libations columnist, Allison Markin, said industry supporters and bloggers are doing their best to share information about how to help as well.

“For us being so far away, but intrinsically linked by the industry, we want to do something,” said Markin. “The scale is unimaginable. I can’t wrap my mind around. A colleague of mine was posting that so far it is the equivalent of four Vancouvers that have been affected by the fires.

“I think for all of us who work in the industry or support the industry, it’s almost a wakeup call how easily this kind of devastation could happen up here.”

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