Following the devasting fires that raged through northernÂ California wine country, the wineries areÂ up and running, and open to visitors, writesÂ Bob Ecker
On the night of Sunday, OctoberÂ 8th, 2017, Northern CaliforniaÂ Wine Country was hit withÂ a dangerous â€œperfect stormâ€Â of atmospheric conditionsÂ combining warm temperatures, extremely lowÂ humidity, bone-dry fields and forests, and veryÂ strong winds. Beginning at 9:52 pm, 17 wildfiresÂ swept throughout the vineyards of Napa,
Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties. These firesÂ were big and fast moving and among the worstÂ in Californiaâ€™s history. The result was a tragicÂ toll on some communities, notably in SantaÂ Rosa in Sonoma County. Some people lost theirÂ lives, many were evacuated and some peopleÂ are still displaced. Approximately 1,200 of Californiaâ€™s 4,600 wineries are situated in Lake,Â Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties.
Yet it could have been much worse.Â Firefighters mobilized quickly and crews fromÂ around California and beyond poured intoÂ battle the Atlas, Nuns, Tubbs and RedwoodÂ Valley fires among others. As heavy smokeÂ shrouded much of Wine Country, teams of firstÂ responders made headway against the blazes,Â andÂ almost all of these firesÂ were extinguished. Volunteers helped out andÂ nearby unaffected communities rallied to assist.
Happily, the smoke has long since blown awayÂ as Wine Country gets back to business. MostÂ wineries, restaurants, hotels and related businessÂ are back open and undamaged. AnotherÂ fortunate development was that when the firesÂ hit, about 90% of the grapes in Wine CountryÂ had already been harvested. It turned out thatÂ the healthy vineyards proved to be a very effectiveÂ firebreak â€“ the Napa Valley floor carpeted withÂ expensive vineyards was left unharmed.
Dr Anita Oberholster, cooperativeÂ extension specialist in Enology, University ofÂ California, Davis, said, â€œAlthoughÂ any loss is heartbreaking â€“ we currently haveÂ confirmed reports of only 15 wineries that wereÂ totally destroyed or severely damaged by theÂ fires â€“ this is a very small percentage and weÂ urge potential visitors to continue their plannedÂ visits and support the grape and wine industryÂ in Northern California.â€
This extract is taken from an article that appears in Issue 2, April-Jun 2018