Community Stories

News and related articles from our community.

WINE COUNTRY TO THE RESCUE

Cloverdale Fire Engineer Miles Black, left, and retired Geyserville Firefighter Rick Groff barbecue tri-tip for dinner at Wine Country to the Rescue, a fundraiser to benefit the fire departments of Geyserville, Cloverdale, and Healdsburg, and the communities they serve, held at Clos du Bois Winery in Geyserville on July 19, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Cloverdale Fire Engineer Miles Black, left, and retired Geyserville Firefighter Rick Groff barbecue tri-tip for dinner at Wine Country to the Rescue, a fundraiser to benefit the fire departments of Geyserville, Cloverdale, and Healdsburg, and the communities they serve, held at Clos du Bois Winery in Geyserville on July 19, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

It’s not good to see firefighters toil in proximity to high heat. Unless they’re cooking!

Such was the case Saturday evening at Alexander Valley’s Clos du Bois Winery, scene of a special, collaborative benefit dinner-dance called Wine Country to the Rescue.

The hardy, caring souls who operate the Geyserville, Cloverdale and Healdsburg fire companies hosted the gathering to raise money to purchase an essential piece of equipment that the three departments will share. It’s a $75,000 air compressor rig for refilling firefighters’ air packs at the scene of a blaze.

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As guests arrived at Clos du Bois on Saturday afternoon, they drank in the enchanting view, chose among the myriad silentauction treasures on display in a tent and pondered which of about 50 premium local wines they’d like in their glass.

The partnering firefighters prepared and served dinner out in the open air. Then the guests of Wine Country to the Rescue welcomed onto the stage county Supervisor Mike McGuire, who displayed his considerable talents as an auctioneer.

With the bidding finished and the dishes cleared, the half-California, half-Tennessee band Whiskey Dawn struck the first chords of music that drew folks to the dance floor like north county firefighters to a menacing flame.

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BOCCE FOR A CURE

Rich Gravelle throws a bocce ball down the court during Bocce for a Cure, a bocce tournament benefiting the American Diabetes Association, at Julliard Park in Santa Rosa on July 12, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Rich Gravelle throws a bocce ball down the court during Bocce for a Cure, a bocce tournament benefiting the American Diabetes Association, at Julliard Park in Santa Rosa on July 12, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Who knew that an afternoon of bocce, accompanied by a little something to nosh and sip, could help defeat diabetes?

The neighborly bocce tournament Saturday at the courts in downtown Santa Rosa’s Juilliard Park provided the contestants an ideal opportunity to play while donating to the mission of the American Diabetes Association.

Hosting “Bocce for a Cure” were pals Rich Gravelle and Daniel Goodwin. Both of them cyclists fairly new to the globally beloved ball-rolling game, they have for several years entered a team in the Tour de Cure bicycle ride that benefits the Diabetes Association.

The pair conceived the bocce tournament as a fun way to raise more money to battle the disease that has impacted the lives of a number of their family members and friends. Gravelle lost his mother to diabetes, both his father and stepmom struggle with it, and he knows he’s at risk of developing it.

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Complementing Saturday’s double-elimination tournament were about $5,000 worth of raffle prizes as well as plentiful refreshments.

There was Lagunitas beer, and wines from Peterson Family Winery, Sunce Winery, Vingavé and other Sonoma-Napa wineries. Players fortified themselves with delectables contributed by the Mary’s Pizza Shack on Summerfield Road, Ulia’s Deli and La Rosa Tequileria & Grille.

Everybody won.

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VOICES IN THE VINEYARD

The ladies of MusicWorks/Sonoma perform "Mambo Italiano" during VOICES in the Vineyard at Jacuzzi Winery in Sonoma on June 29, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / PD)

The ladies of MusicWorks/Sonoma perform “Mambo Italiano” during VOICES in the Vineyard at Jacuzzi Winery in Sonoma on June 29, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / PD)

The senses all feasted at VOICES in the Vineyard, a festival of song, food, wine and caring at Sonoma Valley’s Jacuzzi Family Winery.

Guests at this first-time event on the evening of June 29 were serenaded by the MusicWorks/Sonoma chorus. And their heartstrings were strummed by young people served by VOICES Sonoma, the nonprofit that does much for those who need a hand as they age out of foster care.

Four VOICES youths addressed the supportive crowd, recounting how the innovative organization, founded in Napa, has helped them to find housing, education, employment and a healthy start to life on their own.

The evening benefit was hosted by members of the VOICES advisory council, some of whom are active in the Junior League of Napa-Sonoma.

Festivities began with pours of four Jacuzzi wines and hearty hors d’ouevres prepared and donated by Todd Thompson, chef at The Red Grape in Sonoma and a graduate of Evelyn Cheatham’s Worth Our Weight culinary program for at-risk youth.

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Guests milled merrily about the grounds of the winery, took in the view and savored the singing of a soloist in the piazza.

At about 7, a ringing hand bell drew everyone to the barrel room for a performance by MusicWorks/Sonoma. The program featured classic selections from Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. For the finish, the chorus had guests singing along to The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Hey Jude.”

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