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Napa Vintners pledge money to wildfire victims

Napa winemakers’ main trade association has announced it is to offer an initial grant of up to $250,000 to support victims of the Lake County Valley wildfires.

The Valley Fire has devastated more than 104 square miles of northern California (Photo: Wally Skalij)

Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) has said that it will donate the emergency fund to the UpValley Family Centers (UVFC), based in Calistoga and St Helena, which are helping people affected by the fire with necessities such as food, clothing and security deposits for temporary housing, as well as offering case management support as victims.

A total of five people are reported to have died and more than 23,000 people have been displaced since wildfires began last weekend. Several fires have devastated more than 104 square miles of northern California, the largest of them being the The Lake County Valley Fire.

The massive Valley Fire, which is burning in Lake, Sonoma and Napa counties, has scorched 73,700 acres of land and is 35 percent contained, local news agencies reported.

At least one winery, Shed Horn Cellars near Middletown, Lake County, was destroyed and its owners, Michael and Adawn Wood, lost their home, local press reported.

Langtry Estate and Vineyard, one of the most high-profile wineries in the area, suffered fire damage to some of its 1,000 acres of vineyards and lost one home on its property.

The Valley Fire is the third this summer to affect the wine industry in Lake County, which is home to 35 wineries and more than 8,700 acres of vineyards.

While some local winemakers have suffered burned wineries and vineyards, many more are struggling with logistics as they try to harvest grapes around evacuation orders.

The drinks business reported on September 16 how the Californian Wine Institute had sought to play down concerns that the wildfires would affect this year’s grape crop with smoke taint.

The institute said: “The smoke has not lingered in the vineyards because of winds and many grapes are already picked because of the abnormally early harvest. Smoke taint impacts grapes that are in a growing stage of rapid expansion, [but] the grapes are well advanced at this point.”

The wildfire’s spread

Though on a much smaller scale than in California, wildfires are also reported to have spread to Oregon and Washington State, with at least one winery reported to have perished in Washington state.

A spokesperson for the Washington State Wine Commission said: “We did lose one winery in the Chelan area – Ventimiglia Cellars – but that is the extent as far as we know. Smoke taint seems to be the larger concern, but it is too early to tell if that will be an issue. <&nbsp>

A spokesperson for the Oregon Wine Board echoed those concerns: “We haven’t had any major damage from the wild fires in our vineyards or wineries to the best of my knowledge. The worst will be the potential effects of smoke taint but it’s still a while until we’ll know what that looks like.”

NVV will continue to work with UVFC and provide additional funding if further needs are identified following the distribution of this initial grant, an NVV statement said.

In order to qualify for emergency aid funds, a member of the household must be employed or attend school in Napa County.

 People needing assistance or those who wish to make contributions to nonprofits supporting victims of the Valley Fire, will find information and resources on the NVV’s website.

The Napa Valley Vintners non-profit trade association with around 525 members serving more than 3,500 individuals in Calistoga, St Helena and surrounding rural communities.

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