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james laube's wine flights

Wildfire Fund-Raiser Is Sobering Reminder

Wine and food stars came together to raise money, and call to mind wine country's needy
Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Dec 4, 2017 2:45pm ET

Midway through Saturday night's wildfire relief fund-raiser in St. Helena, a brief video summarized the impact of the fires on Napa and Sonoma counties in October.

In doing so it provided a sober reminder of the devastation caused by the harvest blazes: 44 people killed, more than 9,000 homes and businesses lost, nearly 100,000 people displaced from their residences, with a recovery price tag estimated at $6 billion.

Saturday's charity wine and dinner auction, "A Night of Friendship & Neighbors," raised $3.4 million and demonstrated the two communities' support for victims and the need for monetary relief (Wine Spectator was a co-sponsor of the event). The figure that jumped out for me after weeks and months of processing the enormity of destruction was the bottom-line need: $6 billion.

Even if someone could cut a check for that amount, it will be years before there's equilibrium between forces. The damage has been done. Recovery poses the greater challenge, but it has begun in earnest. Not only in the two North Coast wine communities but in countless fund-raising efforts around the globe. The internationalization of the wine community is on full display.

Nothing brings Americans closer together than disaster and the urgency to rebound. It will be a long, long road back. Many people in wine country and parts of communities will never recover. But the determination not to surrender to what seems an insurmountable chasm is heartening and inspiring. The first steps to rebuild and rejuvenate have begun.

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