Behind the Wine Winemaker Post

To fight a deadly disease, one winemaker’s craft is hand sanitizer

To fight a deadly disease, one Washington winemaker’s craft is hand sanitizer. Read about Dave Harvey’s efforts to curb Covid-19 cases in the Pacific Northwest.

When Washington calls…

Winemaker Dave Harvey answers –gregariously – to help his small Columbia County community however he can.

It’s happened dozens of times since he’s settled into Dayton and developed a wine presence in the rural Pacific Northwest, starting a new wave of business in a quiet township where the residents barely tally 3,000.

But this time, it wasn’t his friend Mike asking to borrow a wrench.

Or Bill, wanting to know the going rate for a tank of Cabernet.

It was the Director of Columbia County Washington’s Emergency Medical Services – asking for a lifesaving favor.

A map of WA counties. In Columbia County, Dayton is a rural township in South East Washington. Image courtesy of

“The Director reached out and asked me and our local distillery (XO Alambic) if we could make sanitizer for the first responders and hospital staff in South East Washington,” said Dave.

And following a couple of careful moments of pause – thinking of the right friend to call next – Dave said two words:

I’m in.” 

“I don’t have a barrel of ‘mistakes’ at my winery yet,” said Dave, “but I have a friend who inherited a large tank of undrinkable wine from his predecessor. After a quick phone call, I was able to secure enough useless wine to make over 300 gallons of sanitizer.”

As is the case with many cities around Dayton and across the country, this week came with a shelter in place order to shut down non-essential activity in South East Washington.

“Like many other states, only essential activities are allowed,” said Dave. “Fortunately, one of the activities is winemaking.”

Washington winemaker Dave Harvey, 

Besides maintaining and fine-tuning his wines – like projects for – that essential activity is now, in no small scope, saving his community.

A variety of business owners have stepped up to provide innovative solutions for the current health supply crisis spiked by COVID-19.

Ford Motor Company recently committed its Michigan factories to the production of respirators and ventilators for coronavirus patients, in addition to providing 100,000 critically-needed plastic face shields and providing surgical masks.

Fashion designer Christian Siriano has converted his New York design studio into a medical mask production area, hoping to sew over 1000 N95 masks per week, according to The New York Times. 

Dave is now a part of that same take-action task force for the Pacific Northwest.

“We all know hand sanitizer is scarce, and a must-have for any first responder, police officer and caregiver,” said Dave, noting that even supplies of the primary component (a 70% alcohol solution) are completely depleted in the area. 

Beginning next week, Dave – alongside XO Alambic’s Master Distiller and Founder, Rusty Figgins – will begin a process of running 6 batches through a still to denature the alcohol and use it “to make enough sanitizer to last for a good while.”

The still at XO Alambic where wine will be distilled in several batches to, as Dave says, “make our world just a tiny bit safer.” Image provided by Dave Harvey.

It’s a community effort that includes “The customers who support my wine projects at – my Angels – make this all possible.”

“Thanks to you I have the freedom to get involved in the community while making the best wines I possibly can.” 

It’s true that continued customer support of his wine projects – despite a shelter in place order and uncertain times – keep Dave sleeping easy.

But don’t mistake his rest:

“Tonight I’ll be dreaming of killing that #@$%& virus,” he said.

Read Dave’s latest updates from the winery and distillery by visiting

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