A Tribute Trip: In Honor of Firefighters & First Responders

Here in Sonoma County, we have the deepest respect and fondness for our firefighters and first responders, as they work hard to keep our land, homes, and residents safe. Travel with intention this summer (and beyond), and follow this tribute itinerary of first responder-related events, tours, distilleries, and wineries in Sonoma County—and help us honor those who work hard to protect us!

Sonoma 4th of July Celebration 

Historic fire truck driven by a firefighter and his family in Sonoma's 4th of July Parade
Historic fire truck driven by a firefighter (and kids) in Sonoma’s 4th of July Parade 

Held on and around Sonoma Plaza on July 4th, this parade, festival, and fireworks show is put on by the Sonoma Volunteer Firefighters Association to provide fundraising for the Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority. Spectator setup begins at the Plaza at 6 a.m., the parade begins at 10 a.m., and following an afternoon of music and presentations, fireworks begin at 9 p.m.; see more schedule info here. Want to do more than just watch? The Association is actively seeking volunteers for this event. 

Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma 

Proceeds from Buena Vista's "The Sheriff" wine benefit the National Sheriff's Association Education Fund
Proceeds from Buena Vista’s “The Sheriff” wine benefit sheriffs nationwide

In 1850, seven years before he founded his Buena Vista Winery, Agoston Haraszthy was elected the first sheriff of San Diego County. Today, the winery continues to honor his pioneering role with a wine called “The Sheriff,” a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Mission that the winery describes as, “authoritative and loyal.” 

A portion of the proceeds of every bottle sold of The Sheriff is donated to the National Sheriff’s Association Education Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving the Office of Sheriff and its affiliates through education, training and law enforcement information resources. 

You might want to enjoy a bottle of The Sheriff onsite at historic Buena Vista, where you can tour the grand estate, hear Haraszthy’s story, and taste wines that have been “thieved” right from the barrel.

Hook & Ladder Winery

Fire truck at Hook & Ladder Winery on Santa Rosa's Olivet Lane
Vintage fire truck at Hook & Ladder Winery on Santa Rosa’s Olivet Lane

Founded in 2003 by growers/vintners Cecil and Christine De Loach and now helmed by their grandson, winemaker Jason De Loach, this Santa Rosa winery’s name and decor pays homage to Cecil De Loach’s 17- year career as a San Francisco firefighter.

Firefighter-themed decor in Hook & Ladder's tasting room
Firefighter-themed decor in Hook & Ladder’s tasting room 

In addition to a genuine vintage fire truck on-site, the tasting room features the inlaid design of a fire truck on the floor; a collection of fire station T-shirts given to the winery by visiting firefighters from around the world; and on the walls, a mural celebrating both firefighters and Sonoma County.  

The Tillerman red blend from Hook & Ladder
The Tillerman red blend from Hook & Ladder 

The winery itself specializes in limited-production bottlings from their Russian River Valley estate vineyards, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Bordeaux-style reds, and Sauvignon Blanc. “The Tillerman” red blend honors a firefighter position once held by founder Cecil de Loach: steering the back of a hook & ladder fire truck. 

Note that beginning June 6, 2022, Hook & Ladder will no longer require reservations for tastings. 

Kincade Fire Mural in Windsor 

In the town of Windsor, this Kincade Fire Mural honors firefighters
In the town of Windsor, this Kincade Fire Mural honors firefighters

Painted by students from Sonoma County’s Bay Area Art Academy, this mural is installed in an archway in the town of Windsor, at the intersection of Windsor Road & McClelland Drive. The names of all the fire agencies who responded to help battle the 2019 Kincade Fire are listed on each side of the mural, along with QR codes that detail a timeline of events.

Sonoma Brothers Distilling 

The Matthies brothers, the twins and first responders behind Sonoma Brothers Distilling
The Matthies brothers: the twins and first responders behind Sonoma Brothers Distilling

Also in Windsor, this popular spirits distillery is owned and run by twin brothers and first responders Chris Matthies, owner and a Santa Rosa firefighter, and Brandon Matthies, director of operations, head distiller, and a Santa Rosa police sergeant. The brothers’ offerings include American gin, rye and bourbon whiskey, brandy, and vodka, and tastings of six spirits (neat) can be sampled in their tasting room. 

Tour the Healdsburg Fire Station

Healdsburg firefighters and a recent member of their Furry Furry Friend Program
Healdsburg firefighters and a recent member of their Furry Furry Friend Program

The staff of this midtown fire station are happy to provide tours, sharing the station’s daily activities, services, and goals—and quite possibly a snuggle with a member of their “A Triple F” Furry Face Friend Program, an animal-adoption partnership with the Healdsburg Humane Society. 

If possible, plan your tour 30 days in advance and make a reservation via email or phone at 707-431-3360. Just keep in mind that an emergency response and other duties may interfere with your visit.

Peterson Winery

Fred Peterson (right) with his winemaker son, Joe, and sales director daughter, Emily
Winegrower/firefighter Fred Peterson (right) with his son Joe and daughter Emily

For 35 years and counting, winery proprietor and winegrower Fred Peterson has been a volunteer firefighter for the Northern Sonoma County Fire Protection Department, and now also serves as as director of the Geyserville-area fire district. He cares passionately about the power of emergency preparedness to protect Sonoma County’s land, people, and animals.

Just a few of the many "Zero Manipulation" wines made by Peterson Winery
Just a few of the many “Zero Manipulation” wines made by Peterson Winery 

For more than 30 years, Peterson has been sustainably farming Rhone varietals like Syrah and Cabernet Franc on his 16-acre Bradford Mountain Estate Vineyard, which sits more than 1,200 feet above the Dry Creek Valley. (He also buys grapes—Zinfandel, Barbera, Sauvignon Blanc, and more—from other area vineyards.) His son Jamie, now the winemaker, continues his dad’s low-tech, high-touch approach of “Zero Manipulation” to create expressive, soulful wines; his daughter Emily handles sales and marketing. 

Fred Peterson at his Dry Creek Valley tasting room, holding an award from the CHP Memorial Wall Fund, for which he helped raise thousands of dollars
Fred Peterson at his Dry Creek Valley tasting room, holding an award from the California Highway Patrol Memorial Wall Fund, for which he helped raise thousands of dollars  

The Peterson tasting room is in the Timber Crest Farms collective on Dry Creek Valley Road, five miles from downtown Healdsburg; tastings are by appointment only. 

Wine Country to the Rescue—July 16, 2022

Wine Country to the Rescue benefits Northern Sonoma County Firefighters
The “Wine Country to the Rescue” event benefits Northern Sonoma County Firefighters

Held at Trentadue Winery in the Alexander Valley on July 16, 2022 from 5-10 p.m., this charity dinner/dance and auction will benefit Northern Sonoma County Firefighters in their efforts to minimize the impact of future wildfires with emergency preparedness training, disaster planning, and more. The event will include both live and silent auctions, a BBQ dinner with wine tasting, a band to keep you dancing, and a professional fireworks display. General admission is $75 per person, and you can get your tickets here

This summer and beyond, please join us in supporting our Sonoma County firefighters and first responders! 

Written by Melanie Wynne

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