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'Everyday Heroes' at St. Supéry

From the Napa Valley Wine Insider Digest: Oct. 9, 2021 series

In 2017, as the LNU Fire closed in on St. Supéry  Estate Vineyards and Winery's Dollarhide Ranch in the northeastern hills of the Napa Valley, neighbors showed up with bulldozers, shovels and tractors to help build firebreaks and stop the advancing flames.

"We lost 98% of our crop but they halted the fire's progression," said St. Supéry's CEO Emma Swain. 

This got her thinking about people "around the word who just show up to help." 

On Oct. 2, she hosted a lunch to introduce the fruits of this thinking: a new photo show celebrating "Everyday Heroes."

Through March 2022, the upstairs gallery at the winery will be filled with larger-than-life photos of people who quietly make a difference in in Napa County.

It's part of the ongoing #InJoy project Swain initiated in 2016, which she hopes will "inspire people to give back and spread joy."

The #InJoyEverydayHero Art Exhibit, curated by Virgie Giles Foundation founders Topher Delaney and Calvin Chin, includes 25  large-scale black-and-white photographs by eight professional visual artists and photojournalists of volunteers working throughout the valley on issues like food security, mental health, animal rescue and youth mentorship.

Stroll the gallery and you'll meet people like Susan Davis from the St. Helena Community Food Pantry, Michael Caldarola from UpValley Centers of of Napa County, Jim Gladfelter from If Given a Chance, and Carol Poole from the Napa Wildlife Rescue.

There's also:

• Joe Martinez from Collabria Hospice,

• Richard Seiferheld from the Landtrust of Napa County,

• Caroline Templeton, Collabria Care;

• Chuck McMinn, Napa Valley Vine Trail;

• Kimberly Gomez, Direct Action for Farmworkers,

• Nadja Havenhill, Alameda County Fire,

• Lupe Hernandez, Child Start, Inc.;

• Rick Jones, Napa Valley Education Foundation, 

• Joanna Letz, Bluma Flower Farms,

• Rosanna Mairena, Cope Family Center

• Ken Frank, from La Toque restaurant which has been donating hot lunches for the homeless

• Jeanna Coursey, from NEWS, Domestic Vioence & Sexual Abuse Services

• Margarita Contreras, ParentsCAN

• Maria Cisneros, 10,000 Degrees

• Yasmine Amparo, Girls on the Run, Napa and Solano

• Christopher Barefoot, Mentis

• Deassa Binstock, Ripple Effect Animal Project

• Calvin Chin from the Virgie Giles Foundation.

Three group photos show the teams from Ole Health, Eakle Construction and Trucking and Community Resources for Children's Toy Library. 

Each person was nominated by their organization and each has a story to tell. “As part of our #InJoy celebration, we are recognizing those individuals whose actions and commitment to community bring joy to others,”  Swain said. “There are amazing volunteers everywhere who just keep giving, and this year we will highlight their ongoing acts of kindness.”

Taking the photographs were  Keith Blodgett; Nancy Blum; Harvey Castro; Mimi Chakarova,; Topher Delaney; Claudia Escobar; Rebecca Letz, Photojournalist and Sally Seymour.

St. Supéry has done its own share of giving as well with its support of ongoing projects like Auction Napa Valley and the Napa Valley Foundation. But in 2020, Michael Scholz, the vice president of winemaking and viticulture, said they had been harvesting for two days, when lightning ignited the fires.

They went ahead and made "a very small amount of Sauvignon Blanc" from the grapes that had been harvested before the fire, and then donated $5 from every bottle they sold to the Napa Community Disaster Relief Fund in honor of those, like David Eakle, who, unasked, helped save Dollarhide Ranch.

“To me, that’s what volunteering is all about,” Swain said. “You came and you helped. Whether you’re there for your neighbors or you volunteer for an organization, that’s the one of the greatest gifts you can give.”

The gallery is open free of charge to view the Everyday Heroes exhibition, although if you want to taste wine while you're there, reservations are required (stsupery.com). 

During your visit, you might also want to take in three other photo exhibits all studies of the nature of Northern California.

"Coastal Access: Sightings from the Edge" by Keith Blodgett is a study in black and white of the edge of the Pacific and surrounding communities.

"Napa Wild Life" by John Comisky, an award-winning wildlife photographer and president of Napa Wildlife rescue comprises breathtaking color photographs of Northern California wildlife.

"The Fruits of Dollarhide Ranch," by Sally Seymour, a great fan of trees of Napa and beyond, focuses on fruit harvested from the Dollarhide Ranch.

You are also invited to nominate your own hero to be featured on social media platforms at stsupery.com/everydayheroes/.

St. Supéry also hosts  #Injoy Sharing & Caring Virtual Tastings on the first two Thursdays in November and December at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to meet some of the featured everyday heroes and hear their stories. As an extra bonus around for closing culinary tips for the holidays from St. Supéry Executive Chef Tod Kawachi will share culinary tips for the holidays. 

Indeed, Kawachi was applauded as a hero himself for the lunch he served to those who had gathered to for the opening of "Everyday Heroes."

Owner / winemaker Kirk Venge talks about the 2021 vintage. Video by Tim Carl.

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Sasha Paulsen is features editor at the Napa Valley Register. Email her at spaulsen@napanews.com

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Features Editor

Sasha Paulsen has been features editor at the Napa Valley Register since 1999. A graduate of Napa High School, she studied English at UC Berkeley and St. Mary's College and earned a Masters in Journalism from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

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