Recent Wine and Spirits Industry COVID-19 Efforts

A Roundup of Fundraisers, Wine Donations, Virtual Tastings, and More

Flying Goat's Norm Yost helped organize wine donations to Lompoc Valley Medical Center. | Credit: Paul Wellman File

Like industries worldwide, the wine and spirits business community is stepping up to help both itself and others in this era of COVID-19. 

Among other efforts, virtual tastings are now a lifeline to consumers, with dozens of Santa Barbara County wineries hosting these affairs via various social media platforms every day. But there’s plenty of fundraising and other egalitarian efforts underway, as well.

Here’s a recent roundup of initiatives across the Central Coast.


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WINERIES DONATE TO LOMPOC VALLEY MED:  While the massive effort of Santa Barbara County winemakers to donate more than 500 cases of wine to hospitals across Southern California got lots of media attention, a much smaller and more intimate affair is directly benefiting the Lompoc Valley Medical Center’s frontline workers. Last week, more than 36 cases were rounded up by Flying Goat Cellars owners Kate Griffith and Norm Yost and given to the facility. 

“We recently delivered our local wine club allocations and came to realize how many of our members work in the essential industries, especially health care,” said Yost. “We want to recognize all their tireless work and express gratitude for all they do in our community with some liquid sunshine.” 

The campaign was publicized by Jeremy and Michelle Ball from Good Morning Lompoc and Barbara Satterfield from Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance. So far, 18 wineries have joined the cause, including Alma Rosa, Ampelos, Chanin, Fiddlehead, Flying Goat, Garcia, Kings Carey, Kita, Longoria, Loring, Pali, Piedrasassi, Sandhi, Santa Barbara Winery, Sea Smoke, Sweetzer, Temperance, and Transcendence.

BUCKS FOR BARTENDERS:  Hoping to raise $10,000 for bartenders and servers at wineries and breweries during this time, Ryan Williams launched this fundraiser. A Carpinteria resident originally from South Africa, Williams recently launched the innovative Get Your Drink On app, in which you can buy people drinks at bars, breweries, and wineries from across the world. The fundraiser is offering shirts for sale, with all proceeds going to the cause, or just a straight donation. 

INSIDE WINE S.B. TASTING:  Inside Wine Santa Barbara, a popular community of regional oenophiles, is starting its own series of $5 virtual tastings on Thursdays at 5:15 p.m. The schedule so far is Matt Kowalczyk of Buscador Winery on May 7, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz on May 21, and Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa on June 4. 

Participants are able to order wines in advance. See meetup.com/Inside-Wine-Santa-Barbara

PHARAOHMOANS SUPPORTING LUCKY’S:  To help the staff at Lucky’s Steakhouse in Montecito, the high-end PharaohMoans Winery in Paso Robles donated 100 bottles of its 2017 vintage to the restaurant, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the staff. At $100 a bottle, that’s a potential $10,000 going to out-of-work servers and crew. See luckys-steakhouse.com.

SENSORY SCIENCE FIRM BOOSTING E-COMMERCE:  Tastry, a San Luis Obispo County–based sensory science company founded by Cal Poly grad Katerina Axelsson, has launched PAVE, which stands for Protect Artisan Vintners Through E-Commerce. A partnership with the e-commerce platform BottleTribe, this program is enabling wineries to quickly make their products available for sale via the internet. Interested parties can email PAVE@Tastry.com.


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+.

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