Walla Walla wine industry helps raise $26,908 for food bank

By on December 29, 2016

Members from the 2016 Barrel Full of Money steering committee present a check to Blue Mountain Action Council on Dec. 15 at Baker Boyer Bank in Walla Walla. From left to right: Trevor Dorland, general manager, Cayuse Vineyards; Cindy Widmer, coordinator for the Barrel Full of Money reception and auction; Ashley Riggs, communications/marketing manager, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance; Jeff Mathais, food bank coordinator, Blue Mountain Action Council; Kathy Covey, CEO, Blue Mountain Action Council; Philippe Michel, steering committee volunteer; and Kari Palmer, marketing coordinator, Baker Boyer Bank. (Photo courtesy of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance)

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Next week, Heather Unwin takes over as executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, and among the successful legacies from the late Duane Wollmuth is the annual holiday Barrel Full of Money food bank fundraiser.

This year, Walla Walla Valley wineries and businesses raised $26,908 for the Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank. That eclipsed the 2015 record by more than $3,000 and brings the total raised to more than $93,000 since the Barrel Full of Money program began in 2011 – Wollmuth’s first year heading up the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

“The Barrel Full of Money fundraiser has become crucially important to the food bank,” Jeff Mathias, BMAC Food Bank director, stated in a news release. “We’re so grateful for our local wineries and businesses, who truly care about making a difference in this community.”

More than 60 wineries, businesses and non-profits in the Walla Walla Valley displayed donation canisters throughout harvest. The campaign began Oct. 6 at Olive Marketplace & Café with the “Load the Barrelceremony to honor Wollmuth. Other businesses featuring full-sized wine barrels included Maple Counter and Public House 124.

Alaska Airlines, Corliss Estates spark efforts

Duane Wollmuth is the executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

Duane Wollmuth, who died July 11, was executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and a champion for the Barrel Full of Money Food Bank Drive. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

In addition to the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, businesses assisting the effort included Alaska Airlines, Baker Boyer Bank, Capps Broadcast Group, Columbia REA, the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.

A critical component to the Barrel Full of Money campaign has been the auction and wine reception at Corliss Estates, which this year was staged Dec. 8. Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance members and partners donate large format bottles and special experiences for a silent auction. Corliss Estates provides wine for the evening, and Olive Catering serves appetizers.

In 2015, the first year of the Corliss Estates event, fundraising for the Barrel Full of Money more than doubled — from $11,408.36 to last year’s then-record of $23,723.77.

New this year was an annual raffle that sold 500 tickets, which generated $5,000. Alaska Airlines donated two unrestricted roundtrip airline tickets valued at $2,500 as the grand prize in a raffle drawing. Second prize was a one-night stay at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and an $80 dining voucher at the Marc Restaurant. Olive also donated a portion of all sales of its seasonal pumpkin cheesecake to the Barrel Full of Money drive.

“Last year was a record year and to better that by $3,000 this year is amazing,” Mathias said. “The money raised in this effort will provide over 140,000 meals for our neighbors in need.”

BMAC Food Bank distributes 435 tons of food

Ashley Riggs, communications and marketing manager for the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, is a native of Walla Walla. She joined the alliance after serving as advertising coordinator for the Tillamook County Creamery Association. (Photo courtesy of Duane Wollmuth/Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance)

Walla Walla native Ashley Riggs, communications and marketing manager for the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, joined the alliance in 2016 after serving as advertising coordinator for the Tillamook County Creamery Association. (Photo courtesy of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance)

The Barrel Full of Money cash has been dedicated to purchasing bulk food items and perishables for the BMAC Food Bank, which distributes an estimated 870,000 pounds of food through the five pantries in Walla Walla County as well as outlets in Columbia, Asotin and Garfield counties. The Barrel Full of Money steering committee presented this year’s cheque at Baker Boyer Bank on Dec. 15.

“This community is extremely generous with their time and money and we’ve proven that we can make big impact when we collaborate,” said Ashley Riggs, communications and marketing manager of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “We look forward to working with the community to support the local food bank again next year.”

The Blue Mountain Action Council is a community action partnership agency providing an array of services to help people meet their basic essential needs. Additional information about the BMAC and its programs is available at www.bmacww.org or by calling 509-529-4980.

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About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region’s longest-running golf publication.

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