Thanks to the support of over 100,000 Angels all around America (and another 150k around the world), we have the resources to help talented winemakers do what they’re best at all year round.
And beyond that, there have been a handful of times when our Angels went above and beyond the call of duty to help somebody in a time of need. These moments touch our hearts and become a part of our story, and I wanted to take a moment to stop and reflect on some of the amazing opportunities we’ve had to help people over the years.
1. When wildfires destroyed thousands of homes in Wine Country, Naked Angels raised over $800,000 for fire relief and recovery
In October 2017, a series of fast-moving wildfires devastated Napa, Sonoma and Santa Rosa counties, destroying thousands of homes in the process. Our amazing community of Angels and everyday wine drinkers immediately reached out, asking how they could help.
…and they didn’t go in halfheartedly. Angels donated the first whopping $110,000 for fire relief and recovery in just 14 days. Combined with donations that came piling in from our friends in Australia and the UK and support of the Cellar Cru American Red Wine (a charitable wine created by our winery team, who pledged 100% of pre-order sales for fire relief), Angels have raised $800,000 and it’s going straight back to neighborhoods in need.
Over $250,000 was donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation, Latino Community Foundation and the Community Foundation Sonoma County’s fire relief programs. And not only did Angels’ generous giving help hundreds of families in Northern California get back on their feet and return to their lives – it rebuilt the Anova School – a cornerstone of the Santa Rosa community that was devastated by the massive Tubbs fire.
2. When vandals emptied Katie’s tanks, Naked Angels saved her
Katie is a lovely British lady who worked for a lifetime in the wine industry before saving enough to live her dream… she bought a vineyard in the south of France and started making her own wine. Everything was perfect until the day local vandals broke into her winery and emptied her tanks, spilling over $80,000 of delicious white wine (made from 80-year-old Grenache Gris) down the drain.
Angels saved Katie and pre-ordered 30,000 bottles from Katie in just 48 hours. Result: she could stay on her feet and produce a killer new vintage. Now Katie’s a fan favorite with Naked Angels around the world and things are looking up again.
3. When the Napa earthquake struck, Naked Angels bought all of Randy’s older wines to fund his next harvest
Randy Hester was one of our first Angel-funded Americans, so we were devastated when we his 2013 vintage was wrecked in the Napa Quake. A 6.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Napa and all of his barrels came tumbling down in a heap.
For days, the fate of his wine was up in the air as crews carefully pulled barrels out of the wreckage and checked for damage. All the while, wine was still dripping down the drain.
Angels pooled together and rescued Randy – they raised over $80,000 and financed his 2014 harvest to get Randy back on his feet and plow through harvest.
4. When fire struck these Australian grape growers, Naked Angels did the right thing
These Aussie grape growers produce some of the best fruit in Victoria – fruit that regularly goes into Sam Plunkett’s award-winning wines. And then, unexpectedly, flat in the middle of harvest when a fire tore through their vineyard and ruined over 15 acres of Cabernet in a single afternoon…
Winsome and Snow (the growers) were devastated. We’re talking about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fruit that was going to be harvested the very next Tuesday.
Enter Sam Plunkett, a winemaker with a heart of gold. He posted about the fire on his wall saying:
Feeling blue for my buddies…
I got the call yesterday that there was a fire reported on a vineyard at Warrenbayne. Friends, Winsome and Snow have a vineyard at Warrenbayne. We make wine for their Baddaginnie Run brand, and their fruit also goes into The Victorian Cabernet. I called Snow, and regrettably the fire was at their place. Called in today. Winsome in particular is really knocked. Sad for the vineyard. Embarrassed that a fire started on their place. And also emotional about all the help they are getting from neighbours and friends.
Sam came up with a plan to pay a bit extra for their fruit this year to keep Winsome & Snow in business and to build on their already strong relationship. Now these fantastic growers get to keep making top-notch fruit and Sam always gets first dibs!
5. When Carmen wanted to give back to her community, Naked Angels raised enough money to feed 3,000 hungry kids around Stellenbosch
The region of Belhar, just a stone’s throw from Stellenbosch is home to many of the men and women who work in South Africa’s most famous vineyards. But these communities are very very poor, and Carmen wanted to ameliorate the situation.
6. When a freak lightning storm burnt Antonio’s winery to the ground, Naked Angels helped him rebuild
Antonio Diez Martin’s family winery, Bodegas Martin Berdugo in Ribera del Duero, burnt down completely in the fire that ensued from this freak lightning strike.
Nestled in over 250 acres of vines, the firefighters had a very difficult time connecting to a water source. Only after some ingenious rigging, were they able to use the vineyard’s well to fight the flames.
We held a little poll and virtually all of the respondents voted to rescue Antonio and help him rebuild his family’s business. Then 1800 Angels chipped in to pre-order wines from Antonio to help him get back on his feet.
He’s got a brand new winery and business is booming (in part thanks to the amazing community in Ribera del Duero, and in part thanks to Angel support). And now, he’s back to making top-notch Ribera del Duero wines! He couldn’t do it without his Angels.
7. When Jeff & Jessica’s daughter was struck by mysterious, polio-like symptoms… Naked Angels helped them stay afloat
This one was a real tear-jerker. Jeff & Jessica are great winemakers and young entrepreneurs… but they’re also loving parents. And at the end of 2012 when their daughter Sofia was struck with a mysterious illness with polio-like symptoms, it was every parent’s worst nightmare.
Dealing with this took a lot of time, energy and money at hospitals and helping little Sofia through surgery, diagnoses and physical therapy. And in the meantime, Jeff and Jessica’s wine business suffered – when we found out about this, it was obvious what we had to do.
We turned to our Angels pooled together and helped Jeff & Jessica generate the cash to keep on making wine and taking great care of their kids.
I’m proud to be an Angel
There you have it! 7 amazing stories. Times our community really reached out and made a gigantic difference in the world.
We built this business to help winemakers and wine drinkers, and I’m very happy that we’ve grown a lot and are able to do that for winemakers all over the world (including my own parents!) But what makes me especially proud is that we’re doing things like this above and beyond.
We’ve attracted a strong community of people who don’t just want to feel like they shop at a farmer’s market – our customers are deeply caring people who actually step up and help those in need.
Writing about these stories still gives me goosebumps… what an amazing community! I’m so proud to be a part of it.