Four years ago winegrower Jan Mathov lost the physical ability to fully manage her Waterford vineyard. Now, Loudoun’s wine community is rallying to help her continue the work she loves.
In July 2014, Mathov was trimming a low branch off a tree in her 3-acre vineyard when the branch hit her ladder and knocked her to the ground, breaking her vertebrae and leaving her an incomplete quadriplegic. After months of rehab in Atlanta, Washington, DC, and at home, Mathov, 49, was able to return to work last year through the use of a friend’s track chair and helped manage her very first harvest, which provided grapes to the Wine Reserve at Waterford.
Because she can only borrow her friend’s track chair for a portion of the year, the Wine Reserve and North Gate Vineyard are teaming up to host a Harvest Kindness fundraising event on Saturday, Nov. 10 to help Mathov buy her own $20,000 track chair to navigate the hilly, and often muddy, vineyard.
“I was very surprised,” Mathov said about the initiative. “It’s surprising and heartwarming and I’m very thankful.”
The wineries are inviting guests to the $25 event to enjoy an evening of wine, Puerto Rican food provided by Borinquen Lunch Box, live music by jazz-funk band Humbalaya, and prizes funded by $5 raffle ticket sales. The raffle gives people a chance to win Argentine Asado dinner for four at Mathov’s vineyard and two tickets to a Washington Capitals game. Tarara Winery is also offering a $600, 12-person tasting experience and four double magnum wine bottles worth $760.
Donations also are being collected via Mathov’s online fundraising page— gofundme.com/harvest-kindness—until the $20,000 goal is reached. Wine Reserve employee Kathy Dolezal hopes that will happen before the start of next year’s growing season in March.
Dolezal said that $1,600 has already been raised, but that donations really need to pick up in the coming months.
“We really need to get the word out,” she said. “We’re hoping a lot of people will turn up for the event.”
In addition to the Wine Reserve and North Gate spearheading the campaign, Tarara and Fabbioli Cellars are also helping the effort by setting up donation jars in their tasting rooms.
Dolezal said that, aside from getting Mathov ready for the growing season, the deadline is aimed at taking advantage of $2,000 grant that needs to be used on a track chair before March. “That’s a big chunk of change,” she said.
Once she gets the track chair, Mathov said she’d be able to do her job much more thoroughly. Right now, her main responsibility is to scout her 5,000 vines for disease, pests, bugs and malnutrition. She said that she’s able to perform those tasks on the lower parts of the vines, but not on the tops because her friend’s track chair doesn’t allow her to stand upright.
The new model would have that feature. “That’s really important because most of the disease and bugs, they will go after the newer growth [at the top of the vines],” Mathov said.
Harvest Kindness Fundraiser
7-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10
North Gate Vineyards, 16301 Hillsboro Road, Purcellville