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80% of Napa wineries are moving forward with the 2020 vintage

As the Californian wine industry assesses the damage of the Glass Fire, as many as 80% of Napa Valley’s wineries are pushing forward with the 2020 vintage.

According to recent figures from Napa Valley Vintners, less than 20 of Napa Valley’s winemaking facilities suffered major damage from the Glass Fire. Keen to move forward, at least 80% of the wineries in the Napa Valley are pushing on the with the production of the 2020 vintage.

“The fires and Covid have been a terrible tragedy affecting many of our wineries, as well as our wineries’ employees and community.

“This is not the first disaster we’ve faced – earthquakes, depressions and recessions, drought, Prohibition and other fires – and we’ve always managed to come back stronger than before. We expect we will after this as well.

“Everyone’s harvest was interrupted to some extent. But winemakers take all of this in their stride. It’s their job to take what mother nature gives and turn it into wine, and in some cases make critical decisions about whether that wine meets the quality standards of their brand and our region,” Connor Best, NVV’s head of international marketing, told db.

Best said it was too early to put a figure on the total volume of wine that will be lost from the 2020 vintage, as winemakers were still assessing the situation.

He said that only 11 of Napa Valley’s 475 member wineries reported suffering major to complete damage of their winery structures.

“The Napa Valley is a strong community. As it has done for over 150 years, the collective spirit of Napa Valley will persevere, and its winemakers will continue to make world-class wines.

“The 2020 vintage, while challenging, is not lost. Only wine worthy of having Napa Valley on the label will make it into the bottle,”

“While the harvest will be smaller than usual, the 2020 vintage will not be absent from the history books,” Best added.

A spokesperson from Jackson Family Wines told db that none of its wineries were damaged in the Glass Fire.

“We are fortunate that we didn’t sustain damage to our wineries during the Glass Fire, or any of the major wildfires throughout California and Oregon this year.

“We’re more than halfway through the 2020 vintage and continue to carefully review and evaluate the grapes that are coming in. At this point, we’re not able to provide additional details about the impact of smoke exposure because we are still working to assess the situation.”

A spokesperson for Gallo admitted that it had been a challenging year, but that the company was optimistic about the quality of the 2020 vintage.

“We are nearly complete with 2020 harvest. While it’s been a challenging year, we are optimistic that the majority of our vineyards throughout California will provide a high quality 2020 vintage, consistent with previous years.

“Our teams collectively remain focused on quality, and we are working collaboratively with our winemaking and winegrowing teams and our grower community to ensure a successful end to the 2020 harvest and 2020 vintage,” the spokesperson said.

On the topic of smoke taint, they said it was “too early to tell” the extent that it will impact the 2020 vintage.

“While smoke taint is a concern, in many cases it is too early to tell as we won’t know specific impacts until after fermentation, and throughout the year ahead.

“We have chosen not to harvest portions of select vineyards, which may impact some single vineyard wines for the 2020 vintage. Overall, we don’t expect that choices related to smoke taint management will affect our ability to supply the market in the future,” the Gallo spokesperson told db.

Delicto Family Wines is in a similar situation when it comes to smoke taint.  “It is very difficult to predict and still too early to understand the impact of potential smoke taint.

“We are hopeful of minimal impact and are working closely with our growers testing the grapes, using data, supported by micro ferments, and tastings to determine exposure,” Brend Dodd, Delicato’s director of corporate communications, told db.

Dodd revealed that all of the Delicato wineries were unharmed by the Glass Fire.

Having witnessed the ups and downs of 43 vintages first hand, Tor Kenward of Tor Wines is hopeful that Napa and Sonoma will emerge even stronger after the fires.

“I don’t know if there is a vintner in Napa or Sonoma that wasn’t affected in some way by the 2020 fire season. Everyone was touched in some way and possibly that is the very reason I know we will come back strong.

“After 43 harvests I’ve seen us pull together before and rebuild after other fires, earthquakes, and floods, and know we will again. It’s our DNA as farmers and winemakers to see the glass half full, and whatever we poured into that glass as subject of great pride. There is not be a lot of wine made in Napa Valley from 2020, but what we do make will reflect that pride,” he told db.

The Howell Mountain and Spring Mountain AVAs were the regions most severely affected by the Glass Fire.

The earlier LNU Complex fires burned in parts of Napa County’s forested mountaintops in the Vaca range, but the greater part of Napa Valley didn’t sustain fire damage during these events.

According to Napa Valley Vintners, the vast majority of Napa County’s 45,000 acres under vine were not threatened. In many instances, the vineyards acted as fire breaks to help save properties from structural damage.

The Napa Valley remains open to tourists and visitors, with wineries encouraging wine lovers to venture back to its estates and tasting rooms.

As reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, vintners in the Napa Valley are asking Napa County to ease restrictions on tasting rooms, including lifting the appointment-only requirement and allowing wineries to remain open to visitors until 7pm to help boost business in the aftermath of the fires.

To help the region rebuild, donations are being accepted for the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, which launched after the 2014 earthquake.

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers will be hosting a Fire Resources Community Fair on 29 October, which will provide Napa County residents and business owners with complimentary supplies to prepare their properties for winter rains.

A drive-through pick-up with rice straw net wattles, rice straw bales, tarps and gloves will be located at the Napa Valley College and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

“As practitioners of best practice, NVG leaders developed this event to share what we know with landowners throughout the county who have an interest in protecting our hillsides, creeks, and landscapes after the devastating fires.

“We are fortunate to have such strong partners sharing supplies and information,” said Jennifer Putnam, CEO of Napa Valley Grapegrowers.

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