Grape-Aid: Napa Valley Superfoods Rescue Project

There are superfoods hanging on the smoke and fire damaged vines following this fall’s California wildfires, and one Napa Valley business aims to save them.  The Wine RayZyn Company wants to turn the unharvested wine grapes into raisins to aid disaster recovery efforts. Not just for the California wildfire victims, but those in the midst of other disasters like Puerto Rico after the hurricane.

Did you know that wine grapes make incredibly healthy raisins? I surely didn’t until the other day, but they’ve been on the market for a few years now. The grapes passed over for winemaking at The Segassia Vineyard stopped going to waste in 2014 when one member of the family started turning them into not just raisins but dried superfoods.

Wine RayZyn

Unfortunately, Segassia sits at the top of the hills above the valley floor, and the wildfires destroyed everything. It is just one of the dozens of damaged Napa Valley vineyards. But even vineyards that weren’t completely destroyed will not have a harvest for making wine from this year. The smoke and heat have made the grapes unusable for wine. Not a total loss, because lots of them are still good for repurposing as superfoods, once converted into raisins. A far wiser use of an imperfect harvest than leaving it all to rot.

Not all raisins are superfoods, by the way. They make normal raisins seedless grapes, and it’s the seeds that turn dried wine grapes into superfoods. That’s where the fruit’s concentration of antioxidants is found. Which is why grape seeds and wine grape skins taste a bit bitter. No one would eat them if they had bitter centers. But Wine RayZyn developed a special way of heating the fruit that toasts and caramelizes the seeds.

Superfoods aren’t likely commonplace in disaster relief donations, yet at times like these, they could help fight off sickness and disease. Naturally, turning a wasted harvest into a food that can help major tragedy victims comes at a price. Someone must cover the cost of the labor and operating equipment, if not paying something for the grapes themselves. Many of these vineyards have some hard times ahead, and insurance won’t cover some of their loss. The harvest must happen without delay, or it will rot.

The Campaign

The Wine RayZyn people have launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of this rescued superfoods project. Salvaging the wine grapes and turning them into raisins will cost $500,000. The company will not profit from their processing and distribution.

They have at least 200 tons of grapes committed to the project from area vineyards. Using the raisin industry’s 3.5 lbs = 1 lb processing averages, it translates to it translates to over 57 tons of Rescue RayZyns. Quite a mountain of recovered superfoods! Once they’re processed and packaged, they have a shelf-life of over 2-years and having some in storage for when the next disaster strikes makes it a win-win.

The Wine RayZyn Company has at least 200 tons of grapes committed to the project. They donated 1% of their total October online sales to the wildfire recovery effort and will donate more from the proceeds of this special production run. They teamed up with the Food Recovery Project to get the Rescue RayZyns distributed to victims. To get more campaign details or make a pledge to their fundraising efforts, visit their Go Fund Me page linked below.

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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.