​London wine tasting for California fire victims


4 December See California fundraiser tasting in pictures.

2 November On the evening of Saturday 2 December we are hosting a tasting of fine California wines in London to raise as much money as possible for those most seriously affected by the recent fires in northern California. Although we like to donate any surplus from all our reader tastings to carefully chosen charities, this is the first time we have organised a tasting designed specifically and exclusively as a fundraiser. 

The wine-based club 67 Pall Mall has very kindly donated their smart, well-lit St James’s Room and Zalto glasses for the event, and Britain’s importers of the finest wines from northern California are giving us the wines. Sensible Wine Services will not be charging for storage, groupage and delivery of bottles. JancisRobinson.com will do the admin and cover the printing costs. So we can guarantee that every penny you give, for the tickets at £150 each and any supplementary donations, will go to help the neediest.

We must be far from alone in our horror at the effects of the fires. The picture above, taken by George Rose, is of Santa Rosa in Sonoma, completely devastated by the fires. Fortunately there will be minimal effects on the quality of the 2017s made there as the majority of grapes were already harvested. And winemakers there are so fastidious, and have such massive reputations to protect, that every effort will surely be exerted to maximise the quality of what is finally bottled – quality that was already promising in 2017.

Some owners of the wineries affected will be sufficiently financially cushioned to be able to deal with recovery from the fires. It is those who have lost their homes and/or jobs lower down the food chain who are most seriously affected, as eloquently pointed out in this Washington Post article (in which praise is heaped on our very own Elaine Chukan Brown) by Dave McIntyre.

Our San Francisco-based American correspondent Alder Yarrow spelt out some specific examples in his latest useful audit of fire-related catastrophe. They include hotel workers immediately out of a job when the Sonoma hotel that employed them burnt to the ground. And of course vineyard workers who have lost their homes, and sometimes access to education and medical facilities.

Alder and Elaine (who was evacuated from her Sonoma home) have recommended the three funds, listed at the end of this article, that will most effectively direct funds to the neediest. If you cannot join us on 2 December (the date of our tenth anniversary champagne tasting in 2010, funnily enough), please consider making a donation to one of these funds anyway.

But we very much hope to see you there, enjoying some of the finest California wines available in the UK – this time without food so as to maximise the amount we make (and there is no shortage of opportunities to eat on a Saturday night in and around 67 Pall Mall – see our recently updated London for wine lovers). As you may have noticed, all our tastings so far have had to be on Sunday nights because that is the only night that our hosts, Caravan King’s Cross, are closed to the public. We hope you will take advantage of this event on a more wine-friendly night of the week.

We’ll open the doors at 6.30 pm and will clear the tables at 9 pm but you are very welcome to drop in at any point between those times. As usual this will be a self-pour tasting and we will provide a tasting booklet with details of the 40-odd fine wines and those who kindly provided them.

WHAT Fine California wine tasting to raise funds for northern California fire victims

WHEN 6.30–9 pm Saturday 2 December

WHERE St James’s Room, 67 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ES (lower floor, with its own entrance)

HOW MUCH £150 a ticket, supplementary donations welcome

Buy tickets here

All the money you give will be donated to these three funds: OLE Health for vineyard workers, The Napa Valley Community Fund for those worst affected in Napa and Redwood Credit Union Fund for those in Sonoma.