Wildfire Impact On Napa Wine Country Likely To Be 'most Significant In Recent Memory'

Posted: Oct 05, 2020

Some wineries in Northern California could be facing a total loss as a result of the wildfires that have ravaged Napa County. Scenes of vineyards scorched by flames and shrouded in smoke emerged this week as the wildfire crisis dragged on. After a tough week, many winemakers in Northern California were trying to figure out their next steps.

"The last five years, we've been impacted by fires," Anita Oberholster, an enologist at the University of California at Davis, told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell. "Specifically 2017, 2018, less in 2019 and now in 2020, we have fires way more extensive. This is our third fire at the moment."

Just because a vineyard doesn't go up in flames doesn't mean it's not at risk of devastation. The smoke the fires are pumping into the air is full of damaging chemical compounds that can be toxic for some grapes and can result in a loss of harvest. Wind direction is also a factor as it can blow wildfire smoke over a vineyard that's not at immediate threat from the flames.

The smoke often lingers after the fires pass through the area. On top of all of that, the fires erupted this year during the grapes' harvest season.

“It started much earlier on during harvest, meaning way more fruit was still on [the] vine," Oberholster said. "So yes, the impact this year will probably be the most significant in recent memory.”

Although some grapes will survive, Oberholster said that harvests will still be lost this year, with some of the most affected vineyards even experiencing a total loss of crops.

By Maria Antonieta Valery Gill
Source: accuweather.com
October 5, 2020

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