After the tragic shootings that critically wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed six others, and wounded a dozen more citizens in Tucson on January 8, I hesitated taking a typically joyful trip through the Sonoita/Elgin wine region the next day; but I’m glad I did. It proved comforting to share the grief with our neighbors—I hadn’t yet made the connection that they too are constituents within AZ District 8.
At the Kief Joshua Vineyards, one of the first question we were asked was how we were dealing with the tragedy “up in Tucson.”
Winemaker Kief Manning said, “Giffords and her staff have been strong supporters and good friends of the Arizona wine industry for a long time, supporting us in many of the trials and tribulations that occasionally arise. Our family is extremely devastated by the recent tragedy, and holds all the victims dear to our hearts.”
Tim Mueller, winemaker at the Canelo Hills Vineyard and Winery explained the connection, “In August, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her chief of staff Ron Barber visited the Sonoita region to learn more about the grape farming and wine business in this little corner of her district. It was seemingly a casual swing through our area on the way to a Democratic Party fundraiser, so I was prepared for the usual self-serving political photo-op type of visit. Quite the opposite. The Congresswoman—‘call me Gabby’—was gracious, interested, engaging, completely present, and full of ideas about how to promote the region and bring some distinction to our toils.
“One week later, after the hail storm that destroyed the 2010 crop, Barber called to see how he could help, and subsequently mobilized the resources of Gabby’s office to eventually rally the regional USDA to our aid, and with the help of the Governor’s office, have the area declared a federal disaster area.
“These are good people, the kind of people I want in my government…I hope first for their speedy and full recovery, and secondly, that we engage in more civilized political discourse.”
Milton Craig, owner of Charron Vineyards, said, “Bottom line—no matter your political persuasion, you should want to see Gabby back on the floor of Congress representing AZ District 8 – an honor she earned again just a few weeks ago.”
The good people in the vineyards and wineries are pulling for you, Gabby.