Vino de Sueños Raises Funds for Farmworkers

People Helping People Holds Annual Wine Tasting Event

PHP Brand and Marketing Manager (and Event Coordinator) Erica Valdés, PHP CEO Dean Palius, and Event Chair Becky Barieau

On November 10 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, Santa Ynez Valley-based People Helping People (PHP) held its 11th annual Vino de Sueños (“Wine of Dreams”), which it estimates netted nearly $50,000 for PHP programs serving area farmworkers.

Each year, a multitude of talented community members contribute to this event, all motivated by a desire to make a difference in the lives of farmworkers who are the backbone of the area’s agricultural economy. Eleven wineries participated, most donating six cases of their premium wine, which was poured at the event and available for purchase. Eleven area artists, including Seyburn Zorthian, Sharon Tate, John Twerks, and Jim Farnum, donated a piece of farmworker-inspired artwork, which was sold at the event through a silent auction and was reproduced for the wine labels. Fine food purveyors donated their gourmet creations for pairing with the wines, including chef Budi Kazali of The Ballard Inn’s The Gathering Table. Many others donated raffle items. More than 200 guests came to enjoy the good wine, food, and company and to support this worthy cause.

Rick Longoria, owner and winemaker at Longoria Wines, dreamed up Vino de Sueños eleven years ago and PHP CEO Dean Palius and six other wineries jumped right on board. In an interview, Longoria shared how he and his fellow winemakers were inspired to help farmworkers because they have a close working relationship with them. The winemakers know both the farmworkers’ backstory and how hard they work each day. By creating the event, the wineries and PHP give other donors and guests the opportunity to help the farmworkers too.

Longoria and two other founding winemakers, Billy Wathen from Foxen Vineyard & Winery and Karen Steinwachs from Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, come back year after year, pouring their creations and engaging with guests. This year’s lineup also included The Brander Vineyard, Dierberg Vineyard, Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery, Ken Brown Wines, Quail Crossing Vineyard, Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, Stolpman Vineyards, and Vogelzang Vineyard.

Funds raised are earmarked by PHP for farmworkers and their families. The proceeds will help meet basic needs, including providing food and rent and utility assistance. Funds will also be used for support services such as counseling, after school programs, parent education, and scholarships. Each year, PHP provides more than $250,000 in assistance to about 800 farmworkers and their families.

People Helping People currently operates with a $2.1 million budget and provides a wide range of assistance in the Santa Ynez Valley, Los Alamos, and surrounding communities. Major programs include food, homelessness prevention, healthcare access, mental health counseling, youth mentoring and after-school programs, and programs for family strengthening and domestic violence prevention. Last year, PHP served 3,900 unduplicated clients.

All wines except Longoria and Foxen are still available for purchase through PHP, with shipping or pick-up available on November 21. For Thanksgiving, PHP will do its annual turkey distribution for needy families. Next month, it once again will have its holiday Fulfill-a-Wish Program, which provides 300 needy families with toys, clothing, and household items that the families select themselves at a decorated boutique. To purchase Vino de Sueños wine, contact Erica Valdés at 805 686 0295 x109 or For more info, go to

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Longoria Wines Owner Diana Longoria and Longoria Wines Owner/Winemaker Rick Longoria
Gail Arnold
Event Artists: Jim Farnum (also Event Art Coordinator), Seyburn Zorthian (also co-owner of Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard), John Iwerks, and Sharon Tate
Gail Arnold
Foxen Vineyard & Winery Co-owner and Winemaker Billy Wathen with Solvang Theaterfest Executive Director Mary Ann Norbom
Gail Arnold
Guests enjoy the event.
Gail Arnold
Four pieces of donated artwork that were featured on labels
Gail Arnold
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard Winemaker Karen Steinwachs with Youth and Family Services YMCA Executive Director Valerie Kissell
Gail Arnold
PHP Brand and Marketing Manager (and Event Coordinator) Erica Valdés, PHP CEO Dean Palius, and Event Chair Becky Barieau


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