When a natural disaster occurs, it is incredible to witness the burst of energy and productivity that directly follows. Times such as these appeal to the human capability for genuine altruism and tirelessness. In 2017, we saw this phenomenon when wildfires ripped through Santa Rosa and surrounding communities. We were part of the relief effort then, one of the many different agencies, individuals, and groups that sprang into action to care for victims and raise funds for recovery. This time, the tables were turned, and we were the ones in need of aid. Experiencing the generosity of people in our time of need was a truly humbling experience.
If you happened to be at the Barlow the day of the flooding in February, you would have seen scores of volunteers working to help the Barlow crew raise the heavy steel flood locks that would keep the bulk of the water out as levels continued to rise overnight. The Barlow workers were on-site throughout the night—battling the rain and rising waters—and stayed on through the next day, working more than 24 hours straight. Seth Wood of Woodfour Brewing and Lowell Sheldon were among the volunteers and it was their labor, combined with the tireless work of the Barlow team and other volunteers, that kept the flooding in the winery and tasting room from being much worse.
Over the next week, with flood waters now receded and cleanup attempts beginning, we experienced an incredible influx of volunteer workers. Kenny Likitprakong of Hobo Wines came with his crew, as did Baron Zeigler from Banshee. Everyone from vineyard owner—like Steve Yob from Majik Vineyard—to our wine club members—like Steven Gdula—dropped their own commitments to labor at the winery. Patrick Cappiello of Renégat Wines and Monte Rio Cellars flew out from New York to support in the cleanup and created the GoFundMe page for us which has raised over $70,000.00. Our own team members and winery family worked overtime and through the weekend following the flooding: Scott Schultz of Jolie-Laide Wines, our assistant winemaker Jaimee Motley (Jaimee Motley Wines) and our tasting room team: Andrew Pimentel, Madelene Johnson, Alycia Lang, Darcy Spencer, marketing director Helen Sinor, Martha Stoumen and Timothy Lyons (Martha Stoumen Wines), Melanie McIntyre and Carlo Mondavi (Raen Winery), Jason Ruppert (Ardure Wines), and Rosalind Reynolds (Emme Wines).
We needed to keep everyone’s energy and spirits up through the long work days and evern there we had help. Jai Wilson brought us tacos, Laura Brennan Bissell of Inconnu Winery brought In & Out Burgers and magnums of Gamay, and Matthew Williams donated lunch from Ramen Gaijin. The Barlow team led by Barney Aldridge and general contractor Chuck Gangnath got us back up and running in under a month.
We can’t name here every person who contributed to our recovery through our GoFundMe page or every person who shared our story on social media or promoted our wines in their stores or restaurants. The list is just too long, and that fact in itself goes to show the power of community and what can be achieved through folks working together out of the kindness of their hearts. We simply cannot put our gratitude into words.
The idea that we’ve reached a new era of ‘abnormal-cy’ hits home after two historic natural disasters have impacted Sonoma County in under three years. Natural disasters are unbiased, they impact the old and young, rich and poor, and we’re reminded of the importance of showing up and being there for those in need as we move forward into uncertain times. We certainly owe a great debt of gratitude to all those who showed up for us.
Visit Pax Wines tasting room, located in The Barlow, open Sunday-Thursday, 11-6pm & Friday-Saturday, 11-8pm! Learn how Kenny Likitprakong and Hobo Wine Company were affected by the Sonoma County fires of 2017 here.