The always philanthropic Grassini Family Vineyards (GFV) wasn’t going to let a pandemic stop them from raising serious money this year for a local nonprofit, as it has done in each of the past eight years. While the lockdown order prevented the usual bash at the winery, GFV carried on with Grassini Gives Back — offering to match all donations up to $50,000— this year to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, raising $100,000 in all.
While the $50,000 has already been reached, another donation component continues through Monday evening: for every bottle of its 2019 Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc purchased (retail price $28), GFV will donate $20 to the Foodbank, and for every other bottle of wine purchased, Grassini will donate $10 to the Foodbank. The Sauvignon Blanc gets the special treatment, according to GFV CEO Katie Grassini, because the wine is known as “Sunshine in a Glass,” and everyone could use a little more sunshine these days.
Grassini Family Vineyards excels not only at its generosity, but also at its winemaking and tasting room experience. In the Santa Barbara Independent’s Best of Santa Barbara® Readers’ Poll, GFV was voted both the Best Santa Barbara County Winery and the Best Urban Tasting Room for the past three years.
According to Grassini, her family holds Grassini Gives Back each year because it wants to give back to the community that it feels so fortunate to be a part of. During these difficult times, Grassini noted, it felt even more important to help those in need. It chose the Foodbank this year because of the incredible job it has done in reacting quickly to help those who have been hit hardest by this pandemic.
Grassini shared how she misses having the in-person event, which she described as a fun and joyful day full of silent auction fun, raffle prizes, wine tastings, and good cheer. However, it was really important to the family to keep the generous spirit of the beloved event going, she related, and so it did, with $100,000 raised and more coming in.
Pre-COVID, the Foodbank was already serving one in four county residents. With 16 million pounds of food delivered in the first 10 months of this year (half of which was fresh fruits and vegetables), it is on track to at least double the amount of food distributed this year over last. South County demand has risen even faster than North County demand. Recently, there has been a dramatic rise in demand countywide.
Currently, the Foodbank is distributing food through 44 SAFE (Safe Access to Food for Everyone) sites, mostly operated by partner organizations, 13 of which are contactless drive-thrus. It also ramped up a tiny home delivery program to one that has made 55,000 deliveries since March to seniors and residents with serious medical conditions. Additionally, the Foodbank supplies several other nonprofits with food, which those nonprofits turn into prepared meals for those in need.
With Community Health Centers, the Foodbank launched the Farmworker Food Access Program to serve some of the county’s most food insecure residents in Santa Maria and Guadalupe. Since July, it has served more than 12,000 individuals. Foodbank Marketing Communications Manager Judith Smith-Meyer noted the irony that farmworkers are responsible for the lush abundance of local fresh fruits and veggies that the rest of us enjoy, but they cannot afford to put food on the table for their families. The Foodbank received a grant for this pilot program, and it is currently fundraising to extend the program beyond its six-month term.
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