Sonoma County’s wineries and restaurants are inextricably entwined, and never more so than now. The food, wine and lodging businesses and the tax revenue and jobs that come with them are the foundation of the local economy.
Local vintners and restaurateurs have a history of giving their time and their products in good times and bad, and these are particularly bad times. Charity auctions have been postponed or canceled. Tastings, dinners and events that raise funds for nonprofits are scratched from calendars. Employees have been laid off or furloughed, as winery tasting rooms are closed. Eateries have been reduced to takeout and delivery meals only, with no end in sight to the global measures to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
So it’s no surprise Sonoma winemakers are doing what they can to support their restaurant colleagues, while suffering hardships themselves. Laws regulating the sale, transport and even donations of wine are archaic and complicated, so it takes ingenuity to create fundraising schemes that are legal and beneficial. These five wineries have done that, with their dining contemporaries in mind. It’s putting their money where their mouths are.
DaVero Farms & Winery
Ridgely Evers was a corporate guy, creator of the QuickBooks accounting software program. Colleen McGlynn was chef/owner of the late, great Samba Java restaurant on Healdsburg’s Plaza. For years, they have grown produce, olive trees for oil and grapevines for their DaVero wine brand. Their second wine label, Avivo, is priced at $16-18 and is produced from bio-dynamically farmed grapes in Lodi. It demonstrates how Mediterranean varietals can be grown economically and leave a small carbon footprint.
The couple teamed with Big John’s Market owners John and Kim Lloyd to sell Avivo Vermentino and Avivo Sangiovese at the Healdsburg store, with proceeds helping supply Healdsburg District Hospital with equipment and protective clothing it will need if the coronavirus outbreak elevates.
707-431-8000, Healdsburg, davero.com
Donelan Family Wines
Owner Joe Donelan and his two sons, Cushing and Tripp Donelan, produce remarkably good pinot noirs, chardonnays and Rhone varietals in their no-frills winery in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park. They have close connections with restaurants across the country, where their bottlings are more likely to be found than on grocery store shelves.
With their tasting room closed and restaurants shuttered across the country, the Donelans came up with a novel way to put a bit of money in restaurant coffers. In addition to offering shipping specials to online buyers of their wines, Cushing Donelan throws in a gift card for a restaurant of the buyer’s choosing, in an amount equal to 10% of the order. The cards will presumably be redeemed when the restaurants resume seated service.
“Wine and restaurants are tied together,” he said. “This helps restaurants pay the bills and their employees.”
707-591-0782, Santa Rosa, donelanwines.com
This Sonoma Carneros estate is a marvelous melding of sweeping vistas, bold pinot noirs made by Dan Fishman and owner Allan Warburg’s jaw-dropping collection of outdoor artwork.
While estate visits aren’t possible right now, the wines can be ordered online. Donum will donate $10 for each wine order to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Also, wine club members will be offered, for a fee, boxes of produce for curbside pickup or delivery.
Donum’s Kicking Bull Farm will continue to supply Northern California restaurants with vegetables, fruits and herbs, but with demand from restaurants down now, they’ll make the excess produce available to wine club members.
707-939-2290, Sonoma, thedonumestate.com
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
In addition to operating this Alexander Valley winery, John Jordan also created the John Jordan Foundation in 2010. “The owners of successful businesses have a responsibility to help those less fortunate throughout the years,” he said. “But during times of crisis, we have to lean in and find ways to do even more.”
Jordan’s foundation awarded $150,000 to the Sonoma Family Meal Disaster Relief Fund. Sonoma Family Meal — founded by Heather Irwin, the dining editor at Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine — will use the money to keep as many as 20 restaurants and caterers afloat. Participating restaurants will be reimbursed for the ingredient and labor costs of preparing meals for those in need, with an estimated 100 employees keeping their jobs. SingleThread Farms, Mateo’s Cocina Latina and PizZando in Healdsburg have already catered meals, and others are to follow.
707-431-5250, Healdsburg, jordanwinery.com
3 Badge Beverage Corp.
August Sebastiani, a member of the fourth generation of Sonoma Sebastianis to produce wine here, has made a name of his own with 3 Badge, which operates in a restored firehouse in Sonoma. He will donate $1 for each bottle sold of his Gehricke Wines selections (chardonnay, zinfandel, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon) to CORE (Children of Restaurant Workers).
The same contribution will be made on sales of 3 Badge’s spirits products, which include Bozal Mezcal, Uncle Val’s Handcrafted Gin, Benjamin Chapman Whiskey, La Pivón Vermouth and Kirk & Sweeney Rum.
707-996-8463, Sonoma, 3badge.com