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Napa Vintners Donate $10 Million for Cleanup

Auction funds will be available to businesses, nonprofits and residents

by Paul Franson
Linda Reiff, executive director of the Napa Valley Vintners, announces that the organization has set up a fund for earthquake relief with an initial donation of $10 million.
Napa, Calif.—At a press conference held today among badly damaged buildings in downtown Napa, the Napa Valley Vintners announced a donation of $10 million for community relief from the devastating earthquake that occurred Aug. 24.

NVV is creating a fund to be administered by the Napa Valley Community Foundation to help meet the immediate needs of local residents and local businesses impacted by the earthquake.

“Hundreds of homes and businesses in the local community were damaged by this disaster,” said Russ Weis, chairman of the Napa Valley Vintners Board of Directors and general manager of Silverado Vineyards. “Residents and business owners in the heart of the city of Napa, south of the city, including American Canyon, and surrounding neighborhoods were especially impacted. The fund will provide resources and assistance to support the community as it rebuilds.”

The vintners encourage other organizations and individuals to contribute to the fund, and U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, who lives in St. Helena, made the first donation.

Thompson added, “I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the Vintners. This is part of the reason I’m so honored to serve this district in Congress.”

He added that staff from the Federal Emergency Management Authority and the Office of Emergency Services are already assessing damage, and once they report, California Gov. Jerry Brown can request federal assistance.

City of Napa mayor Jill Techel stressed that communities recover fastest if they contribute and don’t depend on state and federal assistance. She hopes NVV’s donation will energize that support.

The Vintners and Community Foundation will coordinate their efforts with other non-profit organizations and government entities to fulfill requests for support from Napa County residents and business owners.

The goals of the fund are:

• To provide immediate financial support for the local community.

• To quickly get resources into the hands of the local families and businesses most in need.

• To provide a repository for earthquake-related donations.

• To augment government relief efforts that are still uncertain.

For Napa County residents, funding will be available for one-time immediate needs as well as short term assistance for things like temporary housing; basic needs (food, water, etc.); medical care and counseling, and repairs for immediate safety concerns such as replacement windows, debris removal or fallen chimneys.

For local businesses, the fund will provide assistance to help get them up and running, allowing employees to return to work and local commerce to continue.

Area nonprofits can use funds to help restore operations, and they can also apply for general support grants to serve earthquake victims.

Money to establish the fund will come from proceeds of the Vintners’ annual Auction Napa Valley, which has already donated more than $130 million to other community needs.

The Community Foundation will receive additional contributions from individual, corporate and foundation donors, develop eligibility criteria with input from nonprofit and government stakeholders, identify and select additional partners as necessary to ensure dollars flow quickly and appropriately to end recipients, and establish safeguards to ensure proper distribution of the funds.

Further details about how residents and business owners can apply for assistance and how the funds will be distributed will be announced in the coming days.

The NVV and Community Foundation are still finalizing many details related to the Fund and are seeking guidance from other local nonprofits, government leaders and communities that have faced similar disasters. However, understanding the urgency and extent of the needs of the Napa Valley community following the earthquake, both organizations agreed to move quickly to ensure that local residents and business owners know that immediate help is on the way.

Linda Reiff, executive director of the Vintners, also stressed that most businesses in Napa Valley (including 95% of its wineries) are open; harvest is just starting for most. The Napa Valley Vintners has 500 members.

Mayor Techel ended with an appeal to thank the Vintners, saying, “Drink a bottle of Napa Valley wine tonight!”

For more information or to make a contribution, visit

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