What started as a simple request for a few bottles of wine culminated in a five-truck, 500-plus-case caravan delivering Santa Barbara County wines to hospital workers from Goleta to Mission Viejo.
More than 50 wineries donated to the cause on Thursday at Cecco Ristorante in Solvang, with the first deliveries happening at Cottage Hospitals in Goleta and Santa Barbara on Friday morning. (Cottage spokesperson Maria Zate clarified that the wines donated to the Cottage health system would go to future fundraising efforts, not workers.) More than 400 cases are going straight to the various Los Angeles locations of UCLA Health, with additional stops in Camarillo, Anaheim, Irvine, and Mission Viejo.
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The convoy began when Michael Speakman of Westerly Wine was asked by a friend to donate a few bottles to be part of care packages for hospital workers. Speakman casually suggested that he might be able to rally more donations from his friends in the Santa Ynez Valley. “They said they could take 5,000 wines,” said Speakman. “I thought, ‘That’s a lot of wine. That’s never gonna happen.’ But we’re making it happen.”
After making a few calls to the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association and Visit Santa Ynez Valley, the wine-raiser was moving at full speed. “Everyone is 100 percent on board,” said Speakman.
U-Haul donated use of the trucks once they heard of the story, and Staples donated all of the printing costs for the special labels hanging off of each bottle. The Sideways Inn in Buellton gave Speakman and his delivery driver friends free rooms for the night as well, while David Cecchini of Cecco hosted the packing day on Thursday, making pizza for all the volunteers.
Most of the wines are being put into care packages for the hospital workers, who were extremely thankful for that original batch. And the vintners aren’t shy about using this as a marketing opportunity, as well: Each bottle invites the health-care professionals to visit the Santa Ynez Valley when things get back to normal.
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