December 14, 2012 | by Lisa Mattson

Sonoma wineries fill grape gondolas with 2,060 pounds of Toys for Tots

Russian River Valley beats Alexander Valley by 20 pounds in first-annual wine country gondola toy drive

HEALDSBURG, Calif. (December 14, 2012)—A head-to-head competition between wineries of the Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley—battling to see which wine region could fill its massive grape gondola with the most toys and coats for local children in need—ended today with more than a ton of toys donated. Russian River Valley won the challenge by just 20 pounds with 1,040 of donations to Alexander Valley’s 1,020 pounds for a grand total of 2,060 pounds.

Hosted by John Jordan of Jordan Vineyard & Winery of Alexander Valley and Judy Jordan of J Vineyards & Winery of Russian River Valley, this three-week toy drive benefited Toys for Tots and drew nearly 20 wineries. More than 50 community members turned out at today’s grand finale gondola weigh-in event, as each team’s behemoth, vintage grape gondola—painted like Santa’s sleighs and overflowing with toys—pulled up to Jordan Winery’s scale house in Healdsburg for the official weigh-in. U.S. Marine Reservists, leaders of Sonoma County’s Toys for Tots program, were also on hand to help wineries load last-minute donations into the gondolas.

“My sister Judy may have won this year, but we’ll be back,” said John Jordan, CEO of Jordan Vineyard & Winery. “But, in all honesty, the children are the real winners. Thanks so much to all the wineries for coming together to support this worthy cause during the holidays.”

“In this case, we are all winners because we came together as a community for the children of Sonoma County.  Congratulations to the Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley Wineries. Job well done,” said Judy Jordan, Founder and President of J Vineyards & Winery.

Russian River Valley wineries will be presented with an official Toys for Tots top donor plaque, which will be customized to attach to the Russian River Valley gondola “sleigh.” Participating wineries included: Alexander Valley Winegrowers Association, Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Ferrari-Carano, Lancaster Estate, Munselle Vineyards, Robert Young Estate Winery, Stryker Sonoma and Silver Oak Cellars (Alexander Valley); DeLoach Vineyards, Dutton Goldfield, Hartford Court, Lasseter Family Winery, Moshin Vineyards, Papapietro Perry, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sunce Winery and Twomey Cellars (Russian River Valley).

“The Jordans took their Toys for Tots donation program to the next level,” said Larry Williams, Senior Vice Commandant of U.S. Marine Corp League Detactment 686. “We’re thrilled to have doubled Jordan Winery’s 2011 record and to have more wineries throughout the valleys participating. The toys we received today will allow us to fulfill the toy and coat requests we’ve received from the 28 organizations we support through Toys for Tots.” Jordan Vineyard & Winery hosted its first gondola toy drive in 2011, pitting different departments within the company against one another. Nearly 1,000 pounds of toys were donated by Jordan employees and Jordan Estate Rewards members—the largest donation Toys for Tots received last year.

Santa Rosa-based U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots will distribute the donations next week in Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg, Guerneville, Forestville, Sonoma, Rohnert Park and Petaluma.

U.S. Marine Corps Reservists of Toys for Tots with Judy Jordan and John Jordan (center) at Sonoma wineries gondola toy drive challenge

Visit our EventBrite page for details on the 2013 grape gondola toy drive.