CAWineStrong Aids Counties Recovering From Wildfires

Wildfire Relief Associations Now January/February 2018 Issue By: Alex Beall

A group of winegrower associations launched a campaign to provide resources and money to those affected by the California Wildfire.

After a massive wildfire blazed through Northern California’s wine country in October, a group of winegrower associations launched the CAWineStrong campaign to provide resources and financial support to recovering counties.

Ann Petersen, executive director of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley, explains that the fire dealt the region a “one-two punch.” The fire mostly affected residential areas, but because of the perception that many wineries were burned, tourism dropped. As a result, residents were dealing with the damage to their homes as well as a decrease in business at work.

“With fires, they happen so quickly and typically only have a week of national media attention, so we needed to act as quickly as possible to put something in place to give people a platform for donating,” Petersen says.

The California directors of American viticultural areas, federally designated wine regions, created the campaign as a donation, awareness, and resource-collecting platform. “This is the first time we’ve really come together to create something that’s unified, that’s a marketing campaign, and to also support disaster-relief efforts,” Petersen says.

Donations came from individuals and businesses, such as wineries that gave proceeds from wine sales, and were distributed through community foundations. Other participants provided resources for short-term relief, like generators and trucks, and long-term support, like wine tank space and human resources consulting.

“So really anyone [could] participate through visiting a winery, through purchasing wine, or by just direct giving,” Petersen says. Even businesses, organizations, and individuals outside the state gave to the effort.

“The importance of it is to really raise awareness and attention about what has happened to the region. That is the primary purpose,” Petersen says. But the campaign also helped the region recover economically. “So it’s not only a platform for giving, but also gives a platform for supporting our businesses locally through the purchase of wine.”

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Wildfire Relief."]

Alex Beall

Alex Beall is a contributing writer for Associations Now.