California Wine Country is Rallying Against Gun Violence, and You Can Help

After the Nashville shooting that tragically killed their nine-year-old niece, winemakers Noah and Kelly Dorrance are uniting their community in support of legislation to end gun violence.

Hot air balloon floats over Napa Valley vineyard

Charles O'Rear / Getty Images

Noah and Kelly Dorrance, owners of the stellar Reeve Wines and BloodRoot Wines in Healdsburg, CA, are no strangers to rallying behind an important cause. From natural disasters to COVID-related restaurant closures, Sonoma County has seen its fair share of hardships, and the wine industry is quick to come together, raising money and support. “It's not an uncommon vibe here,” says Noah. “Nobody hesitates to help.” 

But no fundraiser has been as urgent to the Dorrances, as a family, than Wine Country Unites, benefiting Everytown For Gun Safety, slated to take place on Saturday, June 3, the day after National Gun Violence Awareness Day. 

The Dorrances’ nine-year-old niece, Evelyn Dieckhaus, was killed in the shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, TN, on March 27 – the kind of tragedy that seems unthinkable until, to too many families across America, it becomes a reality.  

Nothing can address the magnitude of such a loss. But in response, “trying to do something powerful and positive in the moment,” Kelly Dorrance says, they rallied the wine community for a one-day fundraising event. More than 80 acclaimed wineries, restaurants, shops, and distributors have signed on to donate $10 for every bottle of wine sold that day.  

The Dorrances immediately felt incredible momentum from the winery community, and support has spread beyond their own circle, including some wineries they weren’t previously familiar with. Cartograph Wines in Healdsburg will match the first $10,000 in donations; Tribute to Grace in Santa Barbara, $1000; their New York distributor, Skurnik Wines & Spirits, will donate a portion of sales from the prior day. Minnesota distributor Libation Project and California’s Monterey Bay Wine Company will participate as well.  

Ten dollars per bottle is not a small figure to many of these wineries. “The original plan was five dollars. But that didn’t feel like enough,” says Noah. Putting a bold number out there, they feel, will give customers real motivation. “You know that you, the person buying the wine, is absolutely making a difference,” says Kelly. They aim to raise at least $100,000 in total. 

In the longer run, the family is working to establish their own organization, Light Catchers, advocating for common-sense gun reform, to honor Evelyn and make a difference in her name.

“When we were looking at pictures of Evelyn, we saw rays of light in almost every photo of her,” says Kelly. “It must be a camera effect from the sun, but it’s in so many photos. And that’s really her spirit – she’s a light catcher. It’s how we want to pay tribute to her.”

“We want to make a difference in her name, and make her life worth thousands more, to protect children in the future. Because gun violence gets closer and closer to us all – as we can attest. It’s out of control.” 

How to participate

Since most wineries have pledged to donate $10 per bottle sold on Saturday, June 3 – whether in tasting rooms or online – it’s possible to participate from nearly anywhere in the country. (Interested wineries are still signing on, and can sign up here.) 

The best reason to support Wine Country Unites? To make a tangible contribution to ending gun violence. The second best reason? To stock your wine fridge with bottles from excellent independent wineries in Sonoma and beyond. 

Check the Wine Country Unites website for the list of participants, and Light Catchers on Instagram for updates closer to the event. And in the meantime, here are a few from my own shortlist, to get you started. 

Reeve Wines

The 2022 “Ya Moon” Pinot Noir, which winemaker Noah Dorrance describes as “super pretty and pure,” is my ideal summer red – bright, gently floral, supremely drinkable. Best with a slight chill. 

Broc Cellars

I’m a fan of just about everything this Berkeley natural winery makes, but the fresh, energetic KouKou Cabernet Franc is a particular recent favorite. 

Scribe Winery

Come for the estate rosé, stay for the lively pet-nat. 

Hirsch Vineyards

Stunning single-parcel Pinots from Sonoma Coast pioneers. 

Smith Story Wine Cellars

Their 2022 BRAVE carbonic Zinfandel is my other red of the summer; their 2022 Sauvignon Blanc, a beautifully expressive Loire-style bottling. Some of each, please. 

Ruth Lewandowski

A champion of organic, low-intervention winemaking, Lewandowski’s exciting wines showcase the incredible diversity of Mendocino County.  

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles