Longoria Wines co- owner and Winemaker Rick Longoria, PHP CEO Dean Palius, and Longoria Wines co-owner Diana Longoria | Credit: Gail Arnold

On November 9 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott,  People Helping People (PHP) held its 12th annual Vino de Sueños (“Wine of Dreams”), which it estimates netted more than $50,000 for its programs serving area farmworkers.

A real sense of community permeated the event, with people drawn in by the event’s purpose: to raise funds to make a difference in the lives of farmworkers. Their year-round hard work in the fields is crucial to the county’s agricultural economy, yet their low wages in an area with such a high cost of living means they can struggle to meet basic expenses.

The event was a creative and fun blending of wine and art. A dozen premium wineries each donated six cases of wine, which were available for sampling and purchase. Six of the winemakers were on hand to personally pour and chat about their wines. Talented local artists donated original vineyard-inspired artwork, which formed the basis of the attractive wine labels and were sold through the silent auction. The 300 plus guests enjoyed sampling wine from these wineries and appetizers from fine food purveyors. There was great music by Complicated Animals and by Mônica da Silva and many silent auction items to peruse.

Rick Longoria, owner and winemaker at Longoria Wines, dreamed up the concept of Vino de Sueños 12 years ago and PHP CEO Dean Palius and six other winery owners jumped right on board. Longoria shared how right now, at the end of harvest, is the perfect time to remind ourselves of how hard farmworkers work year-round and how valuable their contributions are. It is the perfect time to pay them back, related Longoria, through the auspices of PHP.

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 wines and engaging with guests. Alma Rosa, another original participating winery, also participated, along with The Brander Vineyard, Dierberg, Ken Brown Wines, Kitá Wines, Lincourt Vineyards, Refugio Ranch & Vineyard, Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, and Stolpman Vineyards. 

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard winemaker Karen Steinwachs shared that she has  wanted to participate every year because PHP is an amazing organization that provides so much help to the underprivileged. She is especially thankful for the assistance they provide farmworkers, who work so hard but don’t make much money. Steinwachs also noted that with one of Buttonwood’s owners, Seyburn Zorthian, being an artist (who designed Buttonwood’s Vino de Sueños label), the winery is well suited for an event that blends art and wine.

The event proceeds all go to PHP’s assistance to farmworkers and their families.  Funds will help meet basic needs, including providing food, rent, and utility assistance. Funds will also be used for support services such as counseling, domestic violence and child abuse prevention, parent education, and scholarships. Each year, PHP provides about $250,000 in assistance to nearly 1,000 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 and Los Alamos Valley, including food, homelessness prevention, healthcare access, youth mentoring, and alcohol and drug abuse prevention. Last year, PHP served 3,850 unduplicated clients.

All wines except Longoria, Ken Brown, and Stolpman are still available for purchase through PHP, with pick-up available only on December 10 at their Solvang office (no shipping). For more info, go to http://www.vinodesuenos.com or email Kristina Stewart at kristina@syvphp.org.

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 100 needy families with toys, clothing, and household items that the families select themselves at a decorated boutique.  

PHP has two other fundraisers each year: the Wine Country Bike Trek is a three-day ride through the Santa Ynez Valley June 19-21,  winecountrybiketrek.com, and the Santa Ynez Valley Polo Classic is July 11 at Piocho Ranch, Happy Canyon Vineyard. syvpoloclassic.com.

For coverage of other events, go to independent.com/society. Send invites to gail@independent.com.

Foxen Vineyard & Winery co-owner and Winemaker Billy Wathen, Event Chair Becky Barieau, and event artist and Event Art Coordinator Jim Farnum
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard Winemaker Karen Steinwachs with Buttonwood co-owner and event artist Seyburn Zorthian.
Stolpman Vineyards founding partner Tom Stolpman with PHP Brand & Marketing Manager Kristina Stewart
Some of the donated artwork, which are part of the silent auction and featured on wine labels.
CEO Dean Palius addresses guests during the short program.
Longoria Wines co- owner and Winemaker Rick Longoria, PHP CEO Dean Palius, and Longoria Wines co-owner Diana Longoria


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