CMac Photography / Scribe Winery

F&W's Ray Isle reporting on the ground near the wine country fires.

Ray Isle
October 11, 2017

Updated as of 11:20 PST

Fires continue to rage unabated in the most famous wine regions in the United States, Napa Valley and Sonoma County, as well as in Mendocino County to the north. Last night Napa’s Mt. Veeder area, home to historic wineries such as Mayacamas Vineyards, was evacuated as flames from the ongoing 5,000 acre Nuns fire spread up and potentially over the Mayacamas range from Sonoma County. Also, portions of Calistoga in northern Napa Valley were evacuated in the early morning hours, and yesterday Sonoma County’s Bennett Valley area had to be evacuated.

The fires are still largely uncontained, despite firefighters’ efforts. Air quality is unhealthy, with wisps of ash drifting from the sky, and smoke still blankets large parts of the region. Nevertheless, some wineries that were earlier reported destroyed thankfully are not. Brent Dodd, communications manager for Treasury Wine Estate, reports that “we have been able to ascertain that the Stags’ Leap Winery and cellar door including the Manor House have not been directly impacted by the fire.”

Scribe Winery, another property rumored to have been burned, has apparently survived. Andrew Mariani, Scribe’s owner: “We were up for two nights working alongside the incredible Cal Fire and the local fire departments to keep the fire at bay. It was a very close call. If not for them this place we have called home for over a decade would be gone. We are also so thankful to the community and our friends for coming out to help over the last few days. Although Arrowhead Mountain is scorched, we are so grateful that the Hacienda and the other buildings have been spared. We are incredibly fortunate and appreciate the messages of love and support. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people who were not so lucky. It's beyond devastating.”

Despite the loss of homes and businesses, and despite the many logistical difficulties, throughout the region wineries and winemakers are still working on the 2017 vintage. Grapes are in tanks and barrels, and fermentation takes its course regardless of the conditions outside. Even near the most impacted areas, work goes on. Benoit Touquette at Realm Cellars in Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap District, which is located along the closed-off section of Silverado Trail where the Atlas Peak fire has been burning, says, “We’ve stayed at the winery since Sunday night to insure its safety and only slept four hours, but all is good. We were able to work thanks to the generator we have, and to take care of the ongoing fermentation. Now we hope that the road will reopen so that we can continue the harvest and try to finish strong.”

Throughout this hard-hit region, being strong is the order of the day right now: helping friends and neighbors who’ve lost their homes, fighting the ongoing fires, and finishing harvest in the face of all of that.

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