Wineries and Wildfires

Spirited Quill, winery fires, Cairenn Rhys, The Spirited Quill
A fire threatens a vineyard northeast of Napa, Calif., on Monday. (Michael Short / Associated Press)

With such a tremendous loss in California due to the wildfires, it is easy to write off the importance of the wineries and the losses they are suffering. After all, wine is luxury.

Please do not have a lack of concern for the wineries in these fires. We need our vineyards in those wildfire prone areas. Firefighters use the vineyards to gauge where the fire may spread next, which saves lives and resources.

Vineyards are a natural firebreak this time of year because of the moisture in the ground. Almost 85% of the harvest was complete when the fire broke out, which means the vines had not yet gone dormant (dry) and so the ground/vines were still wet in those areas. Even though the loss has been heavy, the worst in CA history, if the vineyards were not there, it would be even greater loss of life.

There are areas were the fire stopped right on the line where the vines were planted. Homes and businesses were spared. Some of the wineries have been family-owned for a one or two centuries. Not all are big names estates…there are a lot of mom & pop indie wineries all over Sonoma and Napa that rely on their home vineyards to live.

From an economic standpoint (and if you think the loss of wineries will not affect you because you have nothing to do with wine and you do not live in CA), some of those wineries have product on the shelves where I work. They are in your grocery and liquor stores and restaurants, bars. It’s lost revenue for cities and towns all over the world.

Just to put it a little in perspective:

I just read a report from a CA winery that they could hear the wine boiling in the barrels.