Alpha Omega Winery Goes Big For Wildfire Relief

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Michelle Baggett, Rejane Brito, Robin Baggett
Michelle Baggett, Rejane Brito, Robin Baggett

Photo Credit: Adrian Mendoza

My love for fine wine and beautiful landscapes drew me to live in Napa Valley, but it was my desire to work for a winery that gives back as much as it does produce great wine that led me to Alpha Omega. I couldn’t have been prouder to work at the boutique winery on the Rutherford Bench than during a heartwarming three-day period in July when the entire Alpha Omega team truly put its best foot forward for philanthropy.

Morgan James and Doug Wamble
Morgan James and Doug Wamble

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

On July 27 and 28, Alpha Omega hosted Big Bottle Benefit BBQs followed by the Festival Napa Valley season finale on the 29th. The idea for the BBQs came about last October when our Wine Club members asked how, in the wake of the tragic North Bay wildfires, they could help Napa Valley. Seats for $500 per person went on sale immediately. In January, after reaching its $100,000 fundraising goal, the Alpha Omega Foundation donated $95,000 to the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s (NVCF) disaster relief fund and $5,000 to the Rutherford Volunteer Fire Department.

Kathy and Joel Tranmer
Kathy and Joel Tranmer

Photo Credit: Adrian MendozaAlpha Omega underwrote 100% of the expenses for the two celebrations. Some people bought tickets so the winery could invite first responders and fire victims. Among those on hand were Edmund Grant and Kathy Tranmer, two artists whose homes and their valuable works inside, were destroyed in the Atlas Peak fire. Both artists’ paintings once hung on the walls of Alpha Omega’s private tasting rooms as part of the winery’s artist-in-residence program. At the two benefits and the Festival Napa Valley luncheon, they displayed their latest pieces–and made sales. Tranmer told me what a “healing process” it was for her to show her work at the winery again.

Big Bottle Benefit Atmosphere
Big Bottle Benefit Atmosphere

Photo Credit: Adrian Mendoza

Madonna Day, who lost her home of 48 years in the Tubbs fire and as a result became a client of UpValley Family Centers, one of the nonprofits the NVCF assists, attended with her daughter, Marie-Louise Clark. Clark shared with me how inspired she was by the welcome speech made by Alpha Omega Vintner Michelle Baggett, also Executive Director of the winery’s foundation, and how wonderful it was to see her mother “enjoy herself, dance, and smile in beautiful Napa Valley, which she loves so much.”

Lisa Brown, Terza West-Dantzler, Deneen Hadley
Lisa Brown, Terza West-Dantzler, Deneen Hadley

Photo Credit: Adrian Mendoza

The two sincere and warm Western-themed evenings featured a family-style BBQ, wine poured from magnums, the performance of a quartet from Festival Napa Valley’s Blackburn Music Academy donated by the festival, and dancing on the grass to live music from Jeff Ricketts and the Ole Dirt Road Band.

Kim Bishop and Brad Milligan
Kim Bishop and Brad Milligan

Photo Credit: Adrian Mendoza

Next up was the finale of Festival Napa Valley, which dedicated its 13th season to first responders. The luncheon was just as exquisite as the BBQs, and soul singer Morgan James’s amazing concert on the lawn made the afternoon complete. After the festival, the Baggett Ranch BBQ team, which cooked for the three consecutive events, answered a plea from Operation BBQ Relief, a 501(c)(3) disaster relief organization, and headed to Redding with two rotisserie smokers to assist in feeding emergency personnel and evacuees in Shasta County.

Eric O’Brien, Chris Carmichael, Alex Gonzalez, Robin Baggett
Eric O’Brien, Chris Carmichael, Alex Gonzalez, Robin Baggett

Photo Credit: Adrian Mendoza

By Aug. 3, Pitmaster Eric O’Brien was back in Napa Valley to help the team BBQ for the Super Silent Auction and Marketplace portion of the V Foundation for Cancer Research’s 20th annual Wine Celebration. Vintners Robin and Michelle Baggett continually give and encourage the Alpha Omega team to do the same. That’s why in the middle of the second Big Bottle Benefit BBQ, I knew they wouldn’t mind when I sneaked away to Gamble Family Vineyards where Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch’s (JARR) fifth annual Wineapawlooza was underway. That event raised $1.4 million for JARR’s programs and disaster preparedness, response and relief for animals throughout Napa Valley and the Bay Area.

The author with her dog Honey
The author with her dog Honey

Photo Credit: Emma K. Morris

Still wearing my cowboy hat, I took my chihuahua, Honey, to participate in the pet parade, emceed by television personality Bonnie-Jill Laflin. She told the audience about Honey being adopted through JARR and now going to work with me every day at Alpha Omega. Afterward, I beelined back to Alpha Omega in time to soak up two more hours of the kind-heartedness and compassion that permeated the air, a reminder of why I work there.

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