As if this year could not get any worse we have all been shocked to see the fires that have struck right through the heart of the wine communities in California’s famous Napa and Sonoma Valleys over the last couple of weeks. For those outside the US it is hard to know how to respond to such an emergency other than to continue to support by promoting and selling Californian wine. This weekend The California Wine Institute UK is urging us all to do just that and is also broadcasting a special ‘California Calling’ lifestyle show featuring Oz Clarke and TV chef, James Martin.
Here’s how you can show your support for all those affected by fires in California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
You don’t need to travel to California’s wine lands to appreciate what a special part of the world it is. The stories and the images of Napa Valley, Sonoma, Paso Robles and the sweeping coastline that connects the vineyards from north to south have captured our imaginations for decades.
As have the wines and the charismatic producers behind them, who have travelled the world sharing their love of California and the special wines they can make.
It is also hard for those that don’t live there to appreciate just how vulnerable the wine communities are, as, year after year, they are hit by seemingly ever more devastating fires. The current situation, with fires said to have spread across 260 kilometres, is what the San Francisco Chronicle describes as “the most destructive fire America’s most famous wine region has ever faced”.
What to do
It is times likes this that the global wine community comes together to help each other. It is something we saw at the height of lockdown with a number of initiatives and fund raising efforts to help the South African wine industry cope with a total alcohol ban in the county.
Now once again retailers, merchants, distributors and restaurateurs are pulling together to help California by putting on special promotions to make their customers aware of the situation in Napa and Sonoma.
The California Wine Institute UK hopes to shine the light even more on the situation this weekend when it hosts a special Calling California event on October 10 with the broadcast of what it believes is the first of its kind – a wine, food and lifestyle show, featuring Oz Clarke and TV chef James Martin, that encapsulates what California is all about.
The show was actually made before the fires broke out as a new way to communicate and show wine consumer what California is all about, particularly at a time when we can’t travel there ourselves.
Justine McGovern, UK director of California Wine Institute UK, explains what they hope to achieve: “When we think of California we think of more than just wine, we think of a great lifestyle, film stars, style, amazing food, LA, rap, cool architecture. The list goes on, so we wanted to produce a free, one hour, online show about California wine that speaks about more than wine.
“We hope we have done this with California Calling – it was quite a big departure from our normal day to day for us! It started out as a small idea and the next time we know we are producing a show on California with a looming deadline! Damien (her fellow UK director) and I are both immensely proud of California Calling.”
She admits they were not sure if this was the right time to broadcast the show – as she explains: “When the fires started in Napa last week, our first thought was of postponing California Calling as we didn’t want to seem insensitive. But now we are delighted that the show is going ahead, we want people to watch the show, enjoy it while enjoying a drop of something Californian and in that way we are supporting the wonderful California wine industry.”
After all, as McGovern, adds: “All we can do is to carry on promoting and selling California wines in this time of uncertainty. What California needs now is for everyone to buy a bottle of California wine and show your support by supporting their wine industry.”
Most of all they hope the California Calling show can reflect the genuine warmth and love there is for California from those who know it so well – which is what makes Oz Clarke and James Martin the ideal hosts. The show will see Martin show you how to cook some classic Californian dishes, including grilling the perfect fillet of beef with tips from Californian chef Wolfgang Puck.
Oz Clarke will taste his way through a selection of Californian wines that he believes best showcases what it can offer, including some Californian icon wines. Kat Farmer of BBC’s You Are What You Wear will also match Californian wines with some of her own dishes.
As McGovern explains: “We want the UK consumers to see California through the eyes of British celebrities who they love, like James Martin and Oz Clarke then perhaps they will consider trying a California wine. We are so proud of all that California means and consider ourselves so lucky to have this secret toolkit. California itself is like California wines secret weapon.”
The California Calling show will be broadcast on October 10 on the BrandLive website from 5pm to 6pm (BST) or 9am to 10 am PST.
- To register, please follow this link.