An appreciative nurse pauses from her work to say thank you to participating wineries. ##Photo provided

Willamette Wines for the Frontlines

Group donates bottles to healthcare staff

By Mark Stock

By now you’ve heard enough Oregon wine country stories to know the industry tends to stick together. A unit-first mentality is the major reason why the scene has become so successful.

There’s another tale to throw on the heap, and it’s a timely one. As this story was written, 154 Willamette Valley wineries had united, donating some 1,400 cases of wine to local healthcare workers. The selfless donation also included 268 cases of non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice and involved more than just regional labels — the move incorporated distributors, trucking companies, storage facilities and others.

Dubbed #winesforthefrontlines, the effort was launched in April in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. Many deliveries took place in early May, as the state was still very much under quarantine and healthcare workers were busy putting in long, noble shifts. Frontline workers from all corners of the Valley were on the receiving end of the delivery, including cities like Eugene, Dundee, Amity, Cottage Grove and Corvallis.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, wine consumption has soared as the pandemic has unfolded. The local wine industry has been forced into creative mode to keep afloat, switching over to virtual tastings, curbside pickup and custom deliveries, often by the vintners themselves. The #winesforthefontlines movement sees the winemaking community giving back to those doing the most to keep the devastating virus contained and ultimately erased.

Raptor Ridge co-owner Annie Shull delivers wine as part of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association’s Wines for the Frontlines charity project. ##Photo provided

Non-winery participants include Galaxy Wine Company, Mitchell Wine Group, Northwest Distribution and Storage, Newberg Mail Room and Oregon Wine Services. Spearheading the effort were Annie and Scott Schull of Raptor Ridge Winery. The couple started to beat the donation drum earlier this year, after donating some of their own wine to the cause and witnessing a reaction of supreme appreciation.

There was a conversation about increasing the donation, but the amount was too much for any single label. “A quick survey showed us that more than 1,000 cases would be needed just to provide a single bottle to the caregivers,” Scott Schull says. “Being active in the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, we pitched the idea during a recent Zoom call. Within a week, we had secured commitments for 1,413 cases of wine and 268 cases of sparkling juice.”

Schull is thrilled the industry could bring some joy to those fighting on the frontline of the COVID battle. “Truly, it’s amazing that all walks of the Willamette Valley wine industry quickly collaborated to supply wine donations, warehousing, trucking and delivery. All aspects of our local supply chain gave without asking for a nickel.”

The donation should serve as inspiration to other wine regions and compel consumers to give what they can to the effort at large.

Raise a glass to the health care sector, support your local wineries and continue to be safe and diligent, especially as certain parts of the Valley gradually begin to crawl back to life. We’re all in this together, which means we need to do it right, so we’re not doing it again — and again, and again — down the road. It’s what’s best for Oregonians, the wine industry and the brave frontline folks working in the trenches. 

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable