At Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, we found ourselves unable to safely grant the spring and summer travel wishes of more than 100 children and counting. We learned that we would be unable to hold in-person events for the foreseeable future, which has impacted fundraising for wishes in a very serious way.
Meanwhile, Mark and Elizabeth Hanson and their daughter, Sarah Citron, were planning the grand opening of Bricoleur Vineyards for May, after more than 5 years of planning, permitting, and building. They had envisioned a summer of visitors enjoying their 39-acre estate in Windsor and its olive groves, rose gardens, and bocce courts. With local Chef Shane McAnelly on board, they looked forward to hosting 150 to 200-person charity dinners in the courtyard, including Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area’s Wishes on the Vine event in June. But the progressing COVID-19 pandemic required everything to be put postponed or canceled.
Bricoleur Vineyards is a family owned and run business, and Mark, Elizabeth, and Sarah have been close supporters of the Make-A-Wish mission for over 20 years. “We just love the organization and what it's about—granting wishes for children and their families who are in very difficult situations and trying to bring joy and happiness to their lives,” says Mark Hanson.
And giving back to their surrounding community has always been a focus for the winery. “When we started Bricoleur Vineyards, one of the big visions in the winery was to host charity events—food and wine pairing events, farm to table diners, and charity auctions—at our facility to try and help raise money for various charities,” he explains. “Make-A-Wish is very high on this list.”
In French, “bricoleur” refers to a craftsman who works with whatever materials happen to be available. While under shelter in place orders, the Hanson’s and Chef McAnelly began hosting Quarantine Kitchen, a virtual wine tasting and cooking series, to keep the community spirit alive while waiting on their opening.
In May, Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area CEO Betsy Biern joined Chef McAnelly in the Bricoleur Quarantine Kitchen to cook a strozzapreti pasta and sample Bricoleur’s 2017 Zinfandel. Bricoleur donated a portion of sales back to Make-A-Wish and also gave a generous matching gift. By the end of the evening, guests not only had a delicious meal and wine, they had given more than $30,000—enough to grant three wishes.
“I’d like to raise a virtual glass to toast Mark, Elizabeth, and Sarah for their tremendous generosity,” says Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area CEO Betsy Biern. “Their creativity in connecting us to our community this way has been a bright light during a challenging time. Thanks also to Chef Shane for his patience with me in the kitchen!”
“Being able to help raise money to fund three wishes was so exciting to us,” says Mark, “and this was really just the beginning.”
Inspired by the success, Make-A-Wish will be returning to Quarantine Kitchen in August for a late-summer feast of roasted salmon, creamed corn, and a cherry tomato and cucumber salad. The wine tasting will feature Bricoleur Vineyard’s Estate grown Russian River Rosé of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
Mark says that the entire team at Bricoleur Vineyards has been thrilled to get involved with Make-A-Wish and discover powerful wish stories first-hand. “My wife, my daughter, and I are emotionally attached to the notion of helping children and their families going through difficult times,” he explains, “and I would say that emotional attachment has definitely spread throughout our employee base.”
Mark, Elizabeth, and Sarah are hopeful that the partnership will continue to grow and thrive through virtual events, and one day, in-person farm-to-table dinners.
In the meantime, you can join Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area and Bricoleur Vineyards at another Quarantine Kitchen event on November 12. Bricoleur Vineyards is now open for outdoor tastings Thursday – Monday by appointment only. Visit their website to book a tasting on their beautiful grounds!