We are saddened by the terrible fire and losses in the Lake County community. Our thoughts go out to all who have lost so much in the Valley Fire. We are grateful for the brave work being done by firefighters and all other first responders to keep our residents safe, and for the tireless efforts of the hundreds of volunteers helping to assist those displaced by the fire.
Many in the Lake County wine industry have been impacted by this disaster, some both personally and professionally. Michael and Adawn Wood of Shed Horn Cellars lost their home and winery in the fire. In a statement from the Woods, they said, “We are saddened about the loss of our beautiful county and our many friends that have lost their homes. We are blessed with the outpouring of kindness and thoughts of our personal friends and friends in the industry. We do have inventory in the warehouse to keep our orders filled and our tasting room stocked.”
According to Debra Sommerfield, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, “While we don’t yet know the extent of vineyard and winery damage, for some local grape growers, the main impact has been the closure of Highway 29 in the midst of harvest 2015, which has made it challenging both for harvest workers to get to the vineyards to pick the fruit and for trucks to haul the fruit to the winery.”
In all of the devastation, there are also bright spots. Historic Langtry Estate Winery located in Middletown is back up and running by generator power. In a statement from Foley Family Wines on Monday afternoon, Andrea Smalling, the company’s chief marketing officer, said, “It’s likely that we won’t be able to harvest the remaining grapes due to smoke damage but our winemaker is doing some lab work to confirm. The good news is that it appears that the actual damage to the vineyards may not be as bad as we initially thought – there are areas of green once you get past the most outer vines. We lost one of the homes on the property but the historic Lillie Langtry home was saved. Our employees are all safe and accounted for.”
The Lake County Winery Association and Lake County Winegrape Commission are working together to respond to this disaster.
Lake County Winery Association Executive Director Terry Dereniuk said, “We are working side by side in this disaster. The Valley Fire is the fifth fire incident in Lake County since August. Efforts are underway to gauge the extent of industry damage and coordinate efforts to assist the community.”
About the Valley Fire
The Valley Fire started on Cobb Mountain on Saturday afternoon and, as of Monday morning, had burned 61,000 acres, with an estimated 17,000 residents evacuated, approximately 400 homes lost, and one fatality. The fire has devastated the communities of Cobb and Middletown. For a complete fire update, evacuation orders, and road closures, go online to CalFIRE Incident Information at: http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents or call the Valley Fire information center at (707) 967-4207.