As wine makers we are invited to a whole spectrum of events. From intimate wine dinners to food and wine events. When we were asked to pour Idle Cellars for a fundraiser in Seattle for Schools for Salon, a non profit that helps build schools in Sierra Leone, we were humbly excited to be part of such an important cause.
The fundraiser was held at Herben Feast, an unassuming boat warehouse camouflaged in the rest of the neighborhood by the port. Once inside it looked like a combination of a rustic barn with exposed beams and old time chandeliers exposing a huge central room with a few cut out nooks on each side. Round tables were being set in the main hall to hold all the guests for the upcoming dinner. The stage was being prepped with a podium for the speakers and screens for projection.
The crew was relaxed, with African drumming being played throughout the joint. The kind of music that puts a smile on your face and makes the foot tap while getting the venue prepared for a fun, entertaining evening. We were given the first nook near the entrance of the venue. White table clothes, ice buckets to keep the chill on the Viognier and Chardonnay and flowers on either side of the table to bring some warmth and love to the situation. Rows of Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon filled the table full of joy and wonderment. We were dressed fancy, yet relaxed, ties, with shirts untucked and cardigans.
The first to arrive was Ishmael Baeh, the main speaker of the evening. A warm, humbling man from Sierra Leone who wrote the book The Long Way Gone and Joseph Lamin, a Sierra Leonenian who works with Schools for Salone in Sierra Leone contracting and organizing on the ground in Africa. After a few minutes of sharing, talking about one another’s passions, the gates were opened and guests started to arrive. As much as they were intrigued by Ishmael and Joseph, the guests were also very interested in what the micro winery from Sonoma had to offer. Even though the wine is not the main attraction, as a side bar it created a loose, enjoyable audience.
After a couple of hours of us creating an idle atmosphere they started dinner and the presentation. Everyone found there seats as salads, main courses, and deserts were generously handed out. Conversations started to quiet down as Ishmael, Joseph, Cindy Nofziger (the Executive Director of Schools for Salone), and Bob Heavner, (the Board of Directors President) each took there turns discussing the importance of building schools for Sierra Leone, a country still hurting from their civil war. We were brought to laughter as well as tears, hearing how these extraordinary people put their passion towards children and the rebuilding of a beautiful nation.
As the night was finishing up, people left with smiles and serious subjects on their mind. It was wonderful to be part of something that will help the growth and development of a rebuilding nation but also the new construction of schools. We also got a glimpse of the recycler, overflowing with empty Idle Cellars bottles, a job well done.