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  • Writer's pictureJodie Cordell

California's Wines Are On Fire...

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Y'all, my heart is breaking...

I've been watching the wildfires in California for weeks. And now they've reached the heart of wine country.

And it's devastating.

Damaged bottles of wine lay on the floor at Fairwinds Estate Winery that was destroyed by the Glass Fire on September 29, 2020 in Calistoga, California. | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Damaged bottles of wine lay on the floor at Fairwinds Estate Winery | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Specifically, the Glass Incident Fire has been raging through Napa and Sonoma Valleys and destroying some of the world's most renowned wineries. I watched a bit of the news conference and it seems that these fires are nowhere near letting up.

So far, as of today, nearly 58,000 acres have been burned in this Glass Fire. Firefighters have been able to get 5% containment, but winds aren't playing nice. CAL FIRE LNU is also having to deal with heavy smoke in the area, which is preventing them from air attacks on the fire.

First There Was Smoke

At first, winemakers were worried the smoke-filled air would contaminate the grapes and leave a smoky flavor in the wine. But that concern quickly became a moot point when grapes were caught in the crosshairs of the fires.

As the fires ravaged the valleys and vineyards burned, wine that was recently harvested and fermenting in barrels quickly succumbed, as well. It's hard to know which is worse – the grapes that burned on the vine or the wine that was already harvested. The wine in barrels was a particular pain point for me. I can see years of effect from these fires on wine and winemaking in the future.

What Happens Now?

Y'all I'm devastated. I know you are too. Not only did the three-Michelin-star Restaurant at Meadowood also burn along with more than 100 structures, including many homes, there were also a few deaths attributed to this fire. And this is only ONE of the many fires tearing apart the entire west coast.

Some will be able to rebuild. Some may take years. And some won't be able to come back at all. Several have been left in complete ruin.

But the one thing that's sure, this will definitely hurt the wine drinkers who rely on the elixir of the goddesses. Wine production in California, my favorite wine place, will be slow for a while.

But California winemakers are resilient and they will not be deterred in their mission to create beautiful wines for the world to consume.

Hourglass Winery, one of the many devastated by the Glass Fire, posted on Instagram...

"Our Blueline Estate was unfortunately in nature’s furious path. The loss will take some time to settle in, but most importantly right now we are thankful that everyone on the Hourglass team remains safe and well."

Fairwinds Estate Winery is already trying to prepare for a long rebuild time frame. They stated on their website:

"Most of the Fairwinds Winery and its Tasting Room has been very seriously damaged by the recent Napa Valley fires. We hope to get creative and find ways to show you our wines in some other way on the property soon."

San Francisco Eater is keeping count of all the wineries, restaurants, resorts, etc. as they're destroyed or damaged by the fire. Keep up with the list here.

2020 Can Suck It!

This has been the year that all the bad juju aligned and our world fell apart. The freakin' coronavirus pandemic, the worst recession we've seen in a hundred years, record-breaking job loss, civil unrest we haven't experienced in a generation, and it's also an election year with a political fight to end all political fights.

Oh, and let's not forget that many of us were FORCED to stay home with our kids and suddenly become homeschool moms and dads. WTF? I did not ever intend, nor did I ever desire, to have the role of teacher. No thanks!

(Side note: Thank you to all the lovely teacher folks out there. Without you, we parents would never make it. You're the glue that holds it all together. It clearly takes more than a village to raise a decent child. It takes patient teachers.)

This year has changed every single one of us in some way. Every. Single. One.

What has helped me get through all of this pandemonium? WINE. I would not have kept my sanity if I didn't have a constant influx of wine. And the wine that I've relied on the most heavily is red wine from California. I favor the red blends, especially.

Get Involved

I want to reach out to some of these wineries and find out more about how we, as avid wine enthusiasts, can help our favorite winemakers as they go through this horrible time. I will reach out to them and ask how we can best help and I will share that knowledge with you. Stay tuned and I'll keep you updated.

In the meantime, keep raising your glass!

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