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Ten dead and wineries destroyed as wildfires ravage California wine country

A series of wild fires raged through the wine country of Sonoma County, Napa Valley and Mendocino County on Monday morning, killing 10 people and destroying an estimated 1,500 homes and businesses, including several wineries and damaging others.

Mount Veeder. Photo: Jackson Family Wines

Parts of the city of Santa Rosa, including a Hilton hotel, were levelled by the blaze. The fires, which suddenly flared up during the night and were swept by high winds, were most damaging in the Atlas Peak-Stag’s Leap area near Yountville, in Sonoma County between Kenwood and Santa Rosa and in the mountains north and west of Calistoga.

Among the wineries said to be destroyed were Signerello and White Rock in Napa Valley, Chateau St. Jean, Nicolson Ranch, Paradise Ridge and B.R. Cohn in Sonoma and Frey in Mendocino.

“As of now, we do not have any verifiable information regarding vineyard acreage or winery buildings burned,” Patsy McGaughy of Napa Valley Vintners reported Monday evening.

Map of the fires currently raging in California.

“Currently we are in safety mode to get our families and homes secured,” said Barbara Cox of Sonoma County Vintners. “We are piecing together information as we receive updates and are focused on reaching out to everyone to make sure they are all safe”.

Power was out in most of the affected areas, and many roads were closed, making communications difficult. Darioush, James Cole and William Hill wineries were at first said to be destroyed in early accounts, but the estates later reported their wineries remain intact, although they suffered property damage.

In a statement released today, Treasury Wine, whose brands include Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Stags’ Leap and Sterling Vineyards, said there is “limited damage” to its infrastructures and sites.

It continued: “TWE’s focus is on ensuring all of our employees are safe and we are not sending people in harm’s way. The local fire crews and authorities are doing their best to work on containing the fires”.

While reporting that damaged was limited, the company also stated that “the fires are ongoing and we still have limited access to all our different assets. The majority of our vineyards and wineries are not presently in the direct fire zones”.

TWE did not comment on local reports that one of its wineries, Chateau St. Jean, is said to have been destroyed in the fires. The company owns and operates around 3,750 planted hectares of vineyards in the US.

Most, but not all, of the 2017 vintage has been harvested, but those grapes that were not will mostly likely be affected by smoke taint. Heavy smoke was reported in San Francisco, about 60 miles to the southwest.

Many people were woken in the early hours to fires bearing down on their homes, including those in heavily forested, mountainous areas serviced only by narrow roads. Most were able to escape in the dawn hours to hastily designated evacuation centres, often leaving all their possessions behind.

At least two hospitals in Santa Rosa were hastily evacuated as was the Silverado Resort near Napa. Of the dead, seven were in Sonoma, two in Napa and one in Mendocino.

Online reaction


The North Coast of California was hit last night by huge winds that triggered more than 60 different fires in five counties. The Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa erupted to over 25,000 acres in a matter of hours burning portions of the northern part of the city and forcing the evacuation of two hospitals as well as thousands of other people. In Napa Valley the Atlas Peak Fire also forced mass evacuations and still threatens multiple iconic wineries and vineyards along the Silverado Trail. Numerous other smaller fires still burn. With the sun now up and the wind died down fire crews can turn to some containment though evacuations are still the main priority. We were up most of the night as our house is along the edge of one of the smaller fires near the border of Napa-Sonoma in Carneros. Gratefully we are okay but we still have our emergency bags, hay and bird seed at the ready in case Jr and me with Rosie bird and Harrison need to evacuate. The fire is still in view from our house as seen in this photo of it I just took. Evacuation centers can use volunteers. #napafire #sonomafire Stay off back roads though unless you are evacuating.

A post shared by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on

Sad times in Napa Valley, Sonoma and Northern California right now | praying for safty and protection to everyone and everything affected by these fires. Wineries, homes, buildings, old forests and meadows have been torched. Wildlife and mankind are as one kind and we are all running for cover. This image my father took last night around midnight as he evacuated his house. Not to talk about green house gases or global warming as fires like this have been happening for centuries and have been historically balancing to life. With that said these long droughts, followed by record rains, record highs followed by record lows along with record breaking storms earth has been facing just seem like red flags. Mother Nature is all powerful and we must, as the protectors of earth be respectful and pay attention to the signs we are given. Needless to say I’m sending thoughts and prayers to all in Napa & Sonoma. 🙏🏼 #napafire

A post shared by Carlo Mondavi (@carlomondavi) on

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