Napa And Sonoma Wildfires Destroy Wineries, Bars And Hotels; Many Others Threatened

Posted: Oct 09, 2017

Updated Monday 3:10 p.m. The Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, home to spectacular views and world class outdoor sculpture garden, has burned to the ground, according to posts on the winery’s Facebook page.

Updated Monday 2:10 p.m.: More wineries have burned as a result of the Wine Country fires, including Nicholson Ranch in Sonoma and Frey Vineyards, a pioneer in organic and biodynamic wines, in Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley. Other famous Wine Country businesses, including the Michelin 3-starred French Laundry restaurant, are closed due to fire related power outages. In Yountville, The Poetry Inn on the Silverado Trail in Napa’s Stag’s Leap District, owned by vintner Cliff Lede, who also owns the nearby Cliff Lede Vineyards, has been surrounded by flames. And, in Sonoma, the historic Stornetta Dairy on Highway 12 is also gone. A little bit of good news: Kunde Family Winery’s Jeff Kunde says none of the Kenwood winery buildings have caught fire.

Dozens of early Monday morning fires erupted across Northern California’s premier wine country, spreading quickly, fueled by high wind gusts. Residents evacuated at a moment’s notice and countless homes and businesses burned, among them many well-known wineries, restaurants and hotels.

Several wineries in Napa’s Stag’s Leap District, one of the valley’s premier cabernet sauvignon growing regions, have burned in the Atlas Fire, including Signorello Estates. NBC News showed video footage of the William Hill Estate Winery being consumed by flames. Areas under threat from the fires stretch from Northern Napa Valley, near Calistoga to Southern Napa along the Silverado Trail and Soda Canyon Road.

In Sonoma County, the fire reportedly has destroyed Willi’s Wine Bar, The Fountaingrove Inn and the Hilton Wine Country Hotel in Santa Rosa. In Glen Ellen and Kenwood, residents have reported that Chateau St. Jean and a local lavender field are gone. Locals also report that fires are burning at Kenwood winery, while others note fire fighting efforts to try to save B.R. Cohn. The fire also appears to be close to Benziger winery.

A blaze on a Sonoma Valley ridge threatens nearby wineries, including Scribe and Gundlach Bundschu. The nearby Moon Mountain district, where wineries and vineyards are on steep, remote hillsides, are also at risk.

A representative at the Charles M. Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa said employees evacuated after the museum lost power and the fire closed in, but at present, the museum is safe. Wildlife preserve Safari West, which is in the Mayacamas Mountains between Napa and Sonoma, posted on Facebook, “While the situation remains dynamic and very dangerous, we have received word that the Safari West Wildlife Preserve appears to have weathered the worst of this firestorm. The situation is still very much active and could take a turn, but for the moment, it looks like our preserve and our animals are OK.”

Meanwhile, social media posts highlighted an eerie images of flames on the ridge behind Chimney Rock Winery in Napa and flames burning in brush behind the Stag’s Leap Winery. The Atlas Peak fire forced the evacuation of Silverado Resort and Spa on Sunday night, just hours after the Safeway Open on the resort’s north golf course.

Professional photographer George Rose documented on Facebook as flames raged through the night and daybreak, showing walls of fire on ridges and burning structures.

While the Tubbs Fire has burned at least 35,000 acres in Sonoma and the Atlas Fire has burned up to 12,000 acres in Napa, there are no reports yet about the number of vineyard acres that may have or are burning. And direct fire isn’t the only risk; depending on the duration and intensity of the flames, smoke taint in the remaining grapes on the vines may be become an issue.

Until the fire, the 2017 grape harvest had been progressing along, despite a week-long heat wave in early September that had vintners scrambling to get early ripening varieties picked off the vine as fruit sugar levels spiked and grapes ripened seemingly overnight. Relief came with cooler temperatures, and since then, harvest continued at a fairly normal clip, but now questions remain about the extent of damage the fires will have on Northern California’s largest wine region.

October 9, 2017

Image: Instagram Napavalleytattooco

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