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To my subscribers, friends and vintners


SONOMA VALLEY October 8, 2017

When the power went off in my house at 1030 pm on Sunday night, I was in the midst of communicating with the print house in Amsterdam coordinating the printing of the latest issue. Without power, I succumbed to the girl’s suggestion that I come to bed early to get a good night sleep. The cause of the outage was the winds. Gusting up to 60 mph, I was worried about trees near the house and the roof. The wind persisted in to the morning hours and finally I fell asleep only to be awakened by the lack of noise and the faint whiff of smoke. I immediately got up and walked out to the street to realize the hills were aflame on the other side of the ridges to the southeast (Napa Valley) and southwest (Glen Ellen). I turned to the northwest to see the glow of an intense firestorm in what I suspected was our only feasible escape route. We got up, threw some clothes, my hard drive and mom’s recipe cards and passport into a bag and left well ahead of mandatory evacuation which we are under currently. Fires are threatening my subdivision as of noon on Tuesday, the 10th and I don’t know if the house and Left Hand Rule Studio will be there once it is over. We are fortunate to have an apartment in San Francisco where we are holed up and safe. So many of the people in our town unfortunately are not. Over 1500 structures, businesses, homes and even firehouses have been destroyed. It leaves us all numb as we watch the inexorable march of the beast. Nobody is out of harm’s way until the last hotspot is quenched. Colleagues and winery people I know have lost everything and those of us who can help are throwing what we can into supporting those who got out with the clothes on their back. 



After the Napa Earthquake, Adam Lee from Siduri suggested that I put out a message of support and call to action which I did in a video form, ironically filmed under the tree in my yard that may not be there now. Contributing to aid in these situations can be so anonymous there is never any assurance that it does anything material. Another philosophy is to find one tangible thing, that with concerted effort can reach some demonstrable level of support for one family. I have decided to adopt the family of Kent Humphrey and Colleen Teitgen, owners of Eric|Kent Winery in Santa Rosa. I have loved Kent’s wines since his very first release and have a couple boxes sitting in the studio at this moment. Their collaboration of art curation and winemaking have made then an iconic brand that I greatly admire and appreciate. There is an active donation site put together for them. I have set up the link on my site as a donation for this purchase. 100% of the funds from using that payment type through the end of October will go directly toward this fund. 


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Colleen and Kent are not the only people I know who have lost everything. I’m aware this may create some questions about why an independent wine critic would do this for one brand over another. I can’t be everywhere and the purpose of my publication may even need re-evaluation. I am fine to take the criticism for that when this is all over and the grass begins to grow again. But this is not the last of my support for the community through this crisis. Not by a long way. In desperate times you do the stuff that needs to be done right now as it is wrong to do less than is within your power. Thank you for your generous support.