Vineyards hit by wildfires in Galicia

Vineyards in Rías Baixas in northwest Spain have been damaged in wildfires sparked by arsonists that have killed 41 people in Spain and Portugal.

Over 500 wildfires blazed across northwest Spain and northern and central Portugal over the weekend, which were exacerbated by Hurricane Ophelia.

It is thought that arsonists in Spain used combustible balloons so that the fires would spread quickly, while Hurricane Ophelia added to the damage by fanning the flames.

“It was terrible. On Sunday night we could fell the smell and had ashes in Pontevedra, which is 30km from fire. We were all terribly worried because of our friend’s houses and wineries in Vigo, which has 30,0000 inhabitants.

Señorío de Rubios was one of the Galician estates to suffer damage from the fires

“The wind was extraordinary and everything was so hot that the fires moved quickly,” Vicky Mareque Bueno of Rías Baixas estate Pazo de Señorans told the drinks businesses.

Luckily for Bueno, her winery and vineyards weren’t damaged by the fires as the blaze was over 30km away from the Pazo de Señorans estate.

The fires have destroyed vines belonging to Bodegas Marques de Vargas and Señorío de Rubiós in the municipality of As Neves in southern Galicia.

Señorío de Rubiós produces red, white and sparkling wine from native grapes and is working to revive ancient varieties like Pedral and Souson.

“The wildfire affected our workers in the winery and our growners. The flames came to their homes and some things couldn’t be saved, like animals and cars. Anyone you ask will tell you it was hell. The fire spread very fast,” Natalia Rodriguez of Señorio de Rubies told db.

“The fire burned some of our vine plots and those of other growners. At the moment it is difficult to quantify the percentage of what is damaged, but it is a lot.

“The fires affected our new Albariño and Treixadura vines and but our small plots of red varieties and century old vines. It is difficult to express the magnitude of the damage because our philosophy is based on this land – these are the vineyards of our ancestors,” she added.

In addition to the deaths, 71 people have been injured by the fires and hundreds of homes have been evacuated.

Two women died in Galicia on Sunday after being engulfed in flames trapped in their van outside the town of Vigo, while an elderly man died in an animal shed near his house in Carballeda de Avia.

Hundreds of firefighters backed by water-dropping helicopters and planes were deployed to battle the fires in Spain. Rainfall on Monday night extinguished many of the fires but a number continue to rage.

“What we are experiencing here does not happen by chance, this was provoked,” said Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.

In June 64 people were killed in wildfires that started in the Portuguese town of Pedrogao Grande in the deadliest fire in Portugal’s history.

the drinks business has contacted the Rias Baixas wine board for an update on the extent of the damage to vineyards in Galicia.

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