Hamel Family Wines owners George and Pamela Hamel set the stage for John Fogerty: Songs for Sonoma this past Saturday to benefit Sonoma County wildfire relief.
The vintners, who lost their own home during the wine country devastation, enlisted the aid of Bay Area-based designer Ken Fulk and his team to put on the concert. “I received a charming note from George exactly two weeks from the event asking if we would help,” explained Fulk. “Despite the fact that it is our busiest time of year and that I was going to be on three continents in those two weeks – the answer could only be yes!”
With a formidable group of family, friends and local businesses, the Hamels raised $1.2M for those affected by the recent fires that ravaged the wine growing region. Fulk, who gave his time and resources, enlisted the help of Sheri Sternberg whose Mercenary Productions provided the stage, lighting and sound. Local restaurants Glen Ellen Star, the girl & the fig and Valetta donated the food, while Sweet Scoops curated a special flavor of ice cream using Hamel Family wines.
“We’re the conduit for people’s generosity,” said winery owner George Hamel, Jr. “We came up with the idea for the concert, but it’s everyone else who contributed their time and money who are the real heroes.”
Fogerty, who grew up in El Cerrito, donated his time and the time of his band, Fortunate Son, performing an hour-long set of hit songs. The audience included individuals who generously gave $10,000 or more to the cause, as well as first-responders, physicians, veterans and wine industry professionals – many of whom lost homes or were otherwise affected.
“Everyone in the community felt a real sense of helplessness when the fires were going on,” said George Hamel, III. “We wanted to figure out some way to raise money quickly when the fires were still in the forefront of people’s minds.” The Hamels will control of the distribution of funds through Sonoma County Vintners 501c3 non-profit, and with the help of a few advisors they’ll put the money to use immediately. “This is for the people who might have lost their homes but don’t have insurance, and for the undocumented workers who are still the lifeblood of our community, but are afraid to seek help,” he continued.
All images: Kate Nagle