Michael Speakman (right) and Marty Cruz unload wines at Cottage Hospital | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

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.

The Santa Barbara Independent is providing all coronavirus stories for free
so that all readers have access to critical information during this time.
Get the top stories in your inbox by signing up for our daily newsletter, Indy Today

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. 

Santa Barbara County winemakers filled five U-Haul trucks with more than 500 cases of wine for hospital workers across Southern California.

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. 

At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor.  Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you  in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.