The Fires of Wine Country

This has been a heartbreaking season - in the Southeastern US where I live, four hurricanes in less than six weeks have caused widespread damage along the Gulf Coast, South Florida and Puerto Rico. And now, California's top wine regions are on fire.

California is often the victim of forest fires when dry weather and high winds dramatically increase the risk of conflagration. This year's fires are particularly difficult because they are destroying not only wilderness areas but heavily populated areas as well. The news changes by the hour but as I write this on Tuesday afternoon, 15 people are reported dead and more than 150 are missing in the fires that have destroyed more than 1500 structures, and more than 25000 acres (10,000 hectares). A Wednesday update puts the number of dead at 21, the number of structures (homes and businesses) destroyed at more than 2,000 and the number of affected acres at 125,000 (50,000 hectares). 

We know for sure that two wineries have been completely destroyed - Signorello Estate and Paradise Ridge Winery. Because so many people were forced to evacuate, often with only half an hour's notice, and because the fires are still burning, blocking many parts of Napa and Sonoma counties, there hasn't been a full assessment yet of the damage. We'll have bad news trickling in for days I expect.

To give you an idea of what is happening, here are two photos: on the top is the Jackson Family's Mount Veeder Vineyard a couple of weeks ago, and below that, how it looked last night.

 Photo Credit: Jackson Family wines

Photo Credit: Jackson Family wines

 Photo Credit: Jackson Family Wines

Photo Credit: Jackson Family Wines

As the news is breaking quickly in California, here are two recent reports that I recommend checking out: 

Click here to read a story in the Tuesday of The Drinks Business

And click here for the latest from Wine Spectator

I've spoken with many friends in the area; my friends are safe, but not a one of them has been untouched by the fires and many of them have close colleagues and acquaintances who have lost their homes in the blazes. It will be a long time recuperating from this disaster I'm afraid.