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Despite fires, California wine is doing just fine – for now
California mayor on fires: We need to spend more on infrastructure, less on green energy
Don Sedgwick, mayor of Laguna Hills and GOP congressional candidate, discusses what action California and energy companies should take to prevent wildfires.
If you're worried that wildfires might have created shortages of Northern California's 2019 cabernet sauvignon, or even just imparted it with an undesirable smoky flavor, you can relax. The wine is just fine. For now.
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Despite a late October blaze that raged through one of the world's best-known wine-growing regions. forcing evacuations in two mid-sized towns, wine production in Sonoma County escaped largely unscathed.
Limerick Lane Wines, for instance, avoided serious damage despite flames that licked at two sides of its property in the Russian River Valley just south of Healdsburg. Limerick's grapes were already harvested, crushed and stored in tanks and barrels. The winery's sealed cellar prevented smoke damage to its inventory, said owner Jake Bilbro, although its tasting room now has an acrid smell.
"I have to thank the people who planted our vineyards and built our house 100 years ago," Bilbro said. "Our buildings are all surrounded by vineyards, and vineyards are excellent fire breaks."
Overall, vintners estimate that the region lost only about five percent of its harvest to fire and smoke — not a perfect outcome, but better than in 2017, when wildfire struck with only about 90% of the harvest in. The remaining grapes weren't all lost, but that year's vintages were rumored to have a "smoky" taste, and winemakers were taking no chances this year.