Let the Bells Ring: A Successful 2023 Festival of the Bells Celebration

by | Nov 14, 2023 | In the News | 0 comments


Bells have been used throughout history for myriad purposes – to signal joy, express mourning, sound alarm, or call for battle. In a way, all four of those purposes are encompassed by our annual Festival of the Bells celebration, in which we celebrate the global farming community and the cultivation of peace through agriculture. The bells of our festival ring out to sound the alarm for these people and places in crisis, to mourn those lost in the conflict, call to arms those who may be able to help, and to ultimately celebrate the return of peace.

As a family owned-and-operated winery with a focus on our regenerative farming practices, we are deeply committed to the well-being of both the earth and our fellow farmers who cultivate it. When wars and unrest sweep through a nation, farmlands are too often converted into battlegrounds. Those areas are scarred by the conflict, in the forms of planted mines, destroyed crops, and ruined soil. Food instability plagues these areas long after the actual fighting has ended, and civilians are those who suffer the most.

woman giving a speech

For our 2023 Festival of the Bells, we focused on the work of Roots of Peace, a longtime friend of the Grgich family and of the winery, as the beneficiary for our charity auction. Their mission of restoring devastated farmlands throughout the world is in perfect synergy with our mission to unite all farmers in peace through agriculture.

Attendees to the Symposium that kicked off our festivities were treated first to some words from Heidi Kühn, Founder and CEO of the aforementioned Roots of Peace, and Laureate of the 2023 World Food Prize. Accompanying her were two representatives from the World Food Prize Foundation, COO Marshal Husain and President Terry Branstad, who spoke to their organizations mission to “call forth the global imperative to provide safe, affordable, nutritious, sustainable and equitable food for all.”

Following those introductions, a panel of four distinguished speakers from diverse areas of the agricultural profession, each with a focus on regenerative and sustainable farming. Paul Lightfoot, GM of Patagonia Foods, Paul Alverez, Program Director for the Regenerative Organic Alliance, Andy Naja-Riese, CEO of the Agricultural Institute of Marin, and our own Ivo Jeramaz, VP of Vineyards and Production for Grgich Hills Estate. This group brought together their unique experiences in the realm of agricultural production and distribution to address issues around supply chains, best practices when it comes to farming, and how food can become like medicine when it is grown in a healthy way.

“It’s amazing to see this enthusiasm, to see so many people who care about using agriculture as an avenue for peace. There’s also a huge interest in the ways we grow our food, in a way that is healthy for both us and the planet,” said Ivo.

The Symposium concluded with speakers Tucker Kühn of Roots of Peace, and Consul General Dmytro Kushneruk of Ukraine. As a Roots of Peace ambassador to countries like Afghanistan, Guatemala, and Vietnam, Tucker spoke to the challenges and rewards in his work establishing sustainable and equitable agricultural supply chains in places where farmers are still in recovery from instability. With the current state of affairs in Ukraine, Consul General Kushneruk had much to say about the value of organizations like Roots of Peace in restoring food supply chains disrupted by conflict.

In the midst of a delicious three-course lunch provided by our host and Festival of the Bells partner, the Culinary Institute of America at Copia, the live charity auction began, and the energy was electric. Handbells rang out as bids and donations poured in, each one resounding in a joyful symphony, celebrating a total of over $39,000 going to the removal of landmines and the return of healthy agriculture in locations around the world.

woman holding up bidding number
people sitting around conference
Mike Grgich with his daughter Violet and friend Tucker Kuhn
two guys sitting on a stage

Thank you to all our partners and sponsors, and to those who attended, donated, and supported our mission of cultivating peace through agriculture. We look forward to seeing you November 9th, 2024 for the 3rd annual Festival of the Bells!

All photos of the event are available for download here, using passcode 9225.