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1,000 Pounds of Toys Arrive in Holiday-Painted Winery Grape Gondola

Jordan Winery fills old grape gondola with toys to drop at Healdsburg Fire Station for Toys for Tots in Sonoma County.

As befits a holiday in Wine Country, the red and gold "Santa's Sleigh" full of toys that pulled into Monday was actually an old grape gondola.

"We don't use it anymore for grapes (transport from the vineyard to the winery)," said Tim Spence of Jordan Winery. "So we went to town with the paint job."

Rather than unload all the toys at the firehouse serving as a dropoff point for the Sonoma County "Toys for Tots" campaign, and a crew of four firefighters unloaded the gondola's toys into plastic bags. Firefighters then handed over the toy-filled bags to a three-man crew from Toys for Tots, who then packed all the bags into their own cars.

"We'll take them to the s central warehouse in Santa Rosa," said retired San Francisco Police Sgt. Stephen Bosshard, one of the Toys for Tots crew members. "From there, they will be distributed through 26 agencies around the county."

In Healdsburg, is a Toys for Tots distribution center, Bosshard said.

Jordan Winery CEO John Jordan and a group of winery employees drove the gondola to Healdsburg om Monday, towing it behind a massive white Denali minivan SUV.

"I guess it's going to rattle around a lot now that it's empty,"  Jordan, son of winery founder Tom Jordan, said at the end of the toy transfer.

According to Lisa Mattson, a marketing spokesperson for Jordan Winery, the 1,000 pounds of toys in the gondola came from three sources.

First, John Jordan filled the bottom with $3,000 worth of toys as a direct donation from the winery, she said. On top, toys brought in by the winery's Jordan Estate Rewards loyalty club members at the Dec. 3 holiday party were layered on. Then, another layer of toys came from Jordan winery employees themselves, gathered at their Dec. 10 holiday party, Mattson said.

Winery employee Jesse Carrillo spent a full day painting the gondola red first, with the gold overlay.

In the past, the winery just brought in the toys to the fire station in plastic bags, Mattson said.

"We're going to save this (gondola) and use it again next year," Spence said.

The Healdsburg Fire Department also is running their own Toy Drive, collecting unwrapped new toys in the lobby of the station through Dec. 19. For details, click on the PDF above.

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