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Wildfires Rip Through Northern California Wine Country

Dorathy Gass

California wildfires have ripped through the wine country in Northern California, damaging crops that would otherwise be harvested during this time of year to make chardonnay, as well as other wines. Vineyards have been destroyed, as well as two wineries wiped out; Napa Valley’s Signorello Estate as well as Sonoma County’s Paradise Ridge Winery, Trade association, The Napa Valley Vintners, recently stated that a majority of California’s wineries were not opened due to evacuation orders, staff not making it into work as such, and power outages. The group stated it does not yet have a fixed number around the wineries that have been burned down or how the fires have affected harvest this year or within the industry overall. The only silver lining is that a majority of grapes have already been harvested.

Still, as per Travelweek, an enology specialist out of the University of California, Anita Oberholster, approximately 12% of grapes grown in the state come out of Napa, Sonoma, and surrounding regions. They create the highest-valued wines as these are the best of the best when it comes to grapes. She added that while it is difficult to accurately predict, chances are that this year’s harvest probably won’t carry too much damage due to the wildfires.

As per social media posts by Gloria Ferrer, well-known wineries such as Kenwood and Ravenswood were closed as of late, due to the fires. Meanwhile, Chateau Montelena Winery, known for winning a 1976 French wine-tasting competition, did not have to deal with any damage. Still, some wineries that went without fire damage still had to deal with power outages, which are needed for the grapes processing into wine.

Joel Gott Wines’ VP, Alisa Jacobson recently stated that their growers were able to pick grapes and the winery unloaded them into a cold barrel room, awaiting process. She added that the winery was okay, but the situation they are in is not an ideal one. She noted that all their staff seem to be okay, which is the most important thing.

However, Jacobson did state she was shocked by the rapid rate that the fires spread. She fell asleep last Sunday at 10 p.m., only to be woken up in the night due to the smell of smoke. Then at 3 a.m., people were evacuating.

Here’s hoping that the wildfires can be placed under control in order to minimize any other damages when it comes to wine harvests. More importantly, here’s hoping people can continue to evacuate safely to minimize any injuries or death.