How California’s Wine Country Was Effected By Wildfires

The wine business was hard enough as is — but what will become of it after these disasters?

As of Oct 12, the death count of California's wildfires had risen up to at least 23 people. The disaster devastated northern California for four days — however, firefighters are no closer to any end point.

The number of fires has also risen from 17 to 22 with approximately 170,000 acres currently burning. Around 1,500 homes and businesses have already been destroyed and if the over 30 mph winds don't stop, much more will be too.

This wildfire has impacted the lives of thousands of people — what will it mean for the wine business?

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As of Oct 11, around 30 commercial wine businesses have been damaged or destroyed including the Signorello Estate, Fountaingrove Inn and Round Barn, William Hill Estate Winery and many more.

The wine industry already withstands many difficulties like — too much frost to too much heat, and grapes can also be damaged by an abundance or deficiency of rain, insects, disease, mold and fungus.

However, added onto these wildfires, drastic changes could be coming to the wine business very soon.

Napa Valley Vintners, a trade association, recently delivered a press release: "We are assessing information on how the fires might affect the 2017 harvest and the wine industry specifically, but it will be some time before we have any specific information along these lines. It should be noted that the majority of Napa Valley's grapes were picked before the fires started [Sunday] night."

If the majority of grapes weren't harmed, there can still be damages — endless amounts of aging or stored wines, barrels and tanks could be destroyed in these wildfires. Business plans, recipes, machinery directions — all gone.

These fires are burning up heaps of capital

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In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, Esther Mobley writes, "[The wildfires] could mark a severe shortage of grapes for years to come. When vineyards are planted, it can take three to five years for them to bear fruit."

Even more devastating effects could weigh down on small wine businesses — those who don't own warehouses or vineyards, but make wines in communal spaces. Their entire stocks could be depleted.

However, even if it takes a while, recovery will come. Meanwhile, chief executive officer and president of WineCounty Media, Michael Cann, says that we can restimulate local economy by increasing travel and tourism. In the end, human resilience will always win out.
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