The Origin Story of Rebuild Wine Country

The intensity of the north bay fires was numbing the morning of October 9th. Accurate news was scarce and hard to come by, our family and friends were on high-alert for evacuation, some escaping their homes 20 minutes before they burnt to the ground with just the clothes on their backs, and countless others were disrupted – the place we call home was under attack.

Our team had been in constant contact with one another, as well as with our friends and family to make sure everyone in the extended Senses community was safe. But we wanted to do more. We couldn’t sit still.

Inspired by the community’s response and countless offers to help, the team at Senses – including our Co-Founders Chris Strieter, Max Thieriot and Myles Lawrence-Briggs, and General Manager Chelsea Boss – launched Rebuild Wine Country: a crowdfunding effort in collaboration with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help those who need it most rebuild their homes.

We knew that the recovery would be long-term and that raising awareness and funds for rebuilding would be instrumental to those efforts. We also knew that this is a digital age and wanted to maximize the reach of our campaign so we began to look into fundraising efforts the next day.

It took about two days to figure out how to execute a clean campaign that was tax-deductible, without fees and unnecessary admin costs. We also wanted to help all of wine country, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Lake and Mendocino Counties. This was trickier than expected since most charity entities operate under strict bylaws that limit how and where they can spend funds. A close friend, Ché Casul, suggested his group, Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County, as a fiscal sponsor of our efforts to help distribute raised funds across all of wine country through their affiliates. This created the perfect opportunity.

We built a website and launched the campaign through YouCaring (0% fees) with all funds directly collected by Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County. They then redistribute funds to their local Habitat for Humanity affiliates as a proportion of structures destroyed by the fires in their respective county. This combined with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates solved our needs to get donations into the right hands as soon as possible without overhead fees or tax issues. Overnight, friends of ours throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties, offered to help in the Rebuild Wine Country efforts. We had over 18 volunteers within days and they’ve been incredible.

By the end of Thursday, October 12th, we raised $5k and over $40k through the weekend. A plethora of volunteers, industry support, partnership opportunities and donations found us. We raised our goal to $500k and soon to $5M with the goal to rebuild at least 50 homes and repair countless others. This is just the beginning and we are so thankful to have an opportunity to help those who need it.

Chris Strieter, Co-Founder &  Chelsea Boss, General Manager



I’m excited about Laundry. The French Laundry.

Hello friends! We’re back with a second update this month to share some amazing news with you. I am very excited to announce that our 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are both proudly featured on the wine list at The French Laundry in Napa (yes, that French Laundry of one of the world’s 50 best restaurants).


2012 Pinot Noir

Chris, Max and I just opened a bottle of our 2012 Pinot Noir recently and we were so blown away that I had to tell you about it! It’s changed a lot and has notes of cherry cola, white pepper and strong acid that’s still showing brightly two years after the vintage.


2014 Rosé?

I remember asking my mother once what that pink drink was that all the adults were sipping at some wine country event. It was almost neon and my twelve-year-old brain instantly associated it with soda. Naturally I wanted some. She replied with “Oh that’s rosé, the Koolaid of wine,” which did nothing to lessen my desire for it. But I was bustled away before I could be corrupted by syrupy-sweet white zinfandel.


2014 Best Harvest Yet

The 2014 harvest is over and it’s about time for winemakers everywhere to finally sit back, pop open a bottle of wine, relax and of course give their thoughts on the vintage. 2014, like 2013 and 2012, was an excellent year. Harvest started and ended early, crop yields were high and the weather cooperated in most places. Things are looking good for California winemakers and consumers can look forward to a wide variety of high quality wines to choose from on shelves for the third vintage in a row. We are very excited by our 2014’s, especially our first ever dry rosé!


Why Senses is thankful this time of the year…

The 2014 vintage is winding down: wines are in barrel and vineyards are nearly dormant. This time of the year seems naturally suited for reflection and thankfulness as we prepare for the winter, maybe that’s why Thanksgiving falls when it does. I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving because it’s one of the few days out of the year where it’s socially acceptable to explore the limits of your stomach.