Wildfire damage has some wineries in California worried

Updated November 18, 2017 - 9:53 pm

NAPA, Calif. — A month after deadly wildfires swept through California’s famed wine country, hot-air balloons are floating again over Napa Valley vineyards splashed with fall colors. On the heels of the disaster, a new winery is opening, keeping the name it chose some time ago: Ashes and Diamonds.

The fires had only a minimal effect on the area’s wineries, according to the Wine Institute, an advocacy and policy group. Of the 1,200 wineries in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino, about 10 were destroyed or heavily damaged, and 90 percent of this year’s harvest already was complete, the institute said.

Most vineyards were spared due to their high moisture content, and some even helped save surrounding structures by acting as fire breaks.

But many operators are now grappling with other long-term effects from the fires that killed 43 people and wiped out 8,900 buildings: making up for losses from being closed at the busiest time of year, assessing the impact of smoke and other environmental damage on this year’s vintage, and persuading tourists to return after weeks of news coverage of the fires’ devastation.

One of the most graphic scenes of destruction to emerge was that of the Signorello Estate winery engulfed in flames. Lost in the fire was the Napa winery’s signature stone hospitality building. A kitchen, corporate offices, a wine lab and owner Ray Signorello Jr.’s home also were destroyed.

“We lost all our servers, systems, computers, the things we used to do business,” Signorello said. But he plans to rebuild and says he’s “trying to get people back to work.”

Worried about smoke tainting

At Cardinale Winery in Oakville, where just one Cabernet Sauvignon vintage is made from prized mountain appellations each year, winemaker Chris Carpenter is eyeing the grapes cautiously. He was a rare winemaker willing to say the fires’ effects would be felt for years, noting there also will be environmental issues to contend with.

Only 50 percent of Cardinale’s harvest was finished when the fires erupted, and he’s worried about smoke tainting what remains.

“All the questions are unknown right now, and we hope to have a handle on that after fermentation,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said he had a chance to try some smoke-tainted wines in 2008, and they were not very pleasant – like a bacon-flavored wine.

“If we sense any of that, we won’t bottle,” he said.

Things already appeared to be returning to normal for guests at Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu winery, where dozens of tourists soaked up the sun outside the tasting room a few weeks after the fires. Nearby blackened hills were the only visible reminder of what recently occurred.

The winery celebrated its reopening with a community party that raised $16,000 for a fund to help fire victims, said sixth-generation vintner Katie Bundschu, who oversees marketing and sales.

“It was a place to come and give each other hugs,” said Bundschu, whose own family has been dealing with the loss of her parents’ home.

Pursuing tourists

Now the push is on to lure visitors back to the three counties, which together saw more than $3.7 billion in tourism spending in 2016.

Wineries are filling the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle with ads. “We are open and welcome you back to Napa!” read one. Some are donating their tasting room fees to wildfire relief charities.

The state’s tourism commission, Visit California, is spending $2 million on an advertising campaign to encourage visitors to return.

“Tourism is the wine country’s lifeblood,” said president and CEO Caroline Beteta. If the groups hosting fundraisers spread their goodwill across the region, she said, “I think they will be back and running and be able to host the world as they were before.”

Once people understand everything is not burned down, tourism will return within a few months, said Eric Luse, the winemaker and owner of Eric Ross Winery in Glen Ellen.

Standing outside his empty tasting room and looking at passing cars, he mused, “If you’re not optimistic, you are in the wrong business.”

ad-high_impact_4
News
A record breaking donation of nearly $9 million to Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada
A record breaking donation of property valued at nearly $9 million was made to the Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada by the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal. @bizutesfaye
Multi-agency DUI Strike Team focused solely on arresting impaired drivers
The newly formed DUI Strike Team made up of Las Vegas police officers and Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers have hit the streets looking for impaired drivers. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christmas Tree Inspection
Nevada Division of Forestry employees search for illegally harvested Christmas trees in local lots during the holidays. (Michael Scott Davidson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
One dead in a suspected DUI crash in east Las Vegas
The crash was reported just before 4:10 a.m. at Washington and Eastern avenues.
Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like