Californian wildfires: how to help

the drinks business has put together a list of fundraising efforts currently in place to support the people and wineries affected by the recent wildfires that have killed a total of 41 people.

Chimney Rock Winery, based in the Stags District in Napa, expresses its thanks to those who have offered support in the region. Credit: Facebook – Chimney Rock Winery

To date, it has been reported that 41 people have lost their lives in the wildfires that began to sweep through California wine country on Sunday 8 October. Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Solano and Lake Counties were all affected by the fires.

According to the latest reports, in the Napa Valley, 47 member wineries (out of 330) reported direct damage from the fires. Among the wineries known to have been most severely damaged are Signorello in Napa, Paradise Ridge in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and Paras Vineyards in Mount Veeder, Napa.

Of an estimated 1,200 wineries in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties, the regions most touched by the fires, it is thought fewer than ten wineries have been either destroyed or heavily damaged.

It is believed that approximately 85% of the fruit in the affected areas had been picked before the wildfires struck. Napa and Sonoma reported that as much as 90% of the bunches had been harvested, and, in the cooler Mendocino, around 75% of the red grapes and most of the white grapes had been picked.

It is thought, however, that between 25 and 30% of this year’s harvest in Napa and Sonoma may have been lost due to power and labour shortages in the wineries.

On a more positive note, the number of wineries significantly damaged by the wildfires is not expected to markedly increase, according to the Napa Valley Vintners.

In a statement, NVV said: “Vintners are very optimistic about the quality of the 2017 vintage and the winemaking that was already underway when the fires started.”

“Of the grapes remaining on the vine when the fires began, most were thick-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon. Wineries that could safely access their vineyards continued to pick their grapes. The circumstances surrounding these fires and the grapes left on the vine is unprecedented and the potential effects of the fires are not yet fully known.

The long term result of the wildfires, however, remains more uncertain. It is thought that around 5,700 houses and structures were destroyed by the fires, and countless more were damaged, many of which were used to house local vineyard workers.

The New York Times has recently reported that around 100,000 people were displaced, either temporarily or permanently, by the fires.

For an in-depth look at the real impact on wine, please click here.

As a result of the damage and devastation caused, a number of fundraising initiatives have been set up so that those based outside of the affected regions can offer financial aid to those on the ground.

Click through to view the ways in which you can offer financial assistance, and for the main fundraising pages, please see page seven. If your fundraising endeavour is not mentioned in the following pages, either comment below with the details or email phoebe@thedrinksbusiness.com.

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