Oct 12, 2017
‘We are resilient,’ say Napa Valley Vinters

The Napa Valley Vinters trade association said Oct. 11 that despite wildfires destroying lives and vineyards, the area is strong and resilient.

“The winemaking community is a remarkably resilient group,” Cate Conniff, Napa Valley Vinters’ communications manager, told Fruit Growers News. “The stories of vintners rising above what anyone can possibly imagine to help one another with equipment, use of crush and tank storage facilities is the strength pulling us all through.”

The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) is a nonprofit trade association represents 550 members in the area that’s been hit by natural disaster.

As of Oct. 12, media reports indicated the death toll from the statewide wildfire disaster was at 23, and the number was likely to increase as more information became available.

NVV wrote in a statement posted to its website wrote that its top priorities are the safety and well-being of colleagues and neighbors in areas hit by wildfire.

“Our hearts and condolences go out to the hundreds who have lost their homes, businesses and personal property. We are saddened by the news that there has been loss of life and pray that those numbers will remain small.“We are grateful to the first responders and crews working their hearts out to protect people and property in these terrible conditions. They are our heroes.

“We are grateful to the first responders and crews working their hearts out to protect people and property in these terrible conditions. They are our heroes.”

NVV wrote that at least five physical wineries belonging to its members were a “total or very significant loss” due to the fires. At least 11 other members reported lesser damage to their winery, outbuildings or vineyards.

“We have yet to hear from about a dozen NVV members in the most vulnerable areas of the valley, including along the Silverado Trail, in Calistoga and in the Mt. Veeder/Partrick Road/Henry Road areas,” according to NVV’s statement. “There are still other wineries that are not yet able to access their properties, leaving their condition unknown. … It is too early to estimate the economic impact of the fires on the Napa Valley wine industry.“The spirit of community in our valley is strong and we are resilient. Neighbors will help neighbors and we will get through this terrible time.”

“The spirit of community in our valley is strong and we are resilient. Neighbors will help neighbors and we will get through this terrible time.”

As of Oct. 12, fires continued to burn in and around the Napa Valley, especially the surrounding hills. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection continues to provide live information about wildfires throughout the state on its website, CalFire.

The disaster is further complicated the fact that it’s harvest season in Napa Valley. NVV estimates that 90 percent of the grapes were picked before the fires started on Sunday night, Oct. 8.

“Wineries able to assemble crews and safely get to their vineyards are continuing to harvest grapes,” NVV said in its statement. “Power outages and the inability of employees to report to work also have also created challenges for wineries, especially for tasting rooms. However, many wineries have emergency generators, which has helped maintain production capabilities.

“It is too soon to tell how the fires and related challenges will impact this year’s vintage overall. What we do know is that of the grapes remaining on the vine, it is almost all Cabernet Sauvignon. Our winemakers report that this thick-skinned variety, fully-developed and ready to be picked for the 2017 harvest, is not expected to be impacted by the smoke from the fires.”

How to help
The Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, which the NVV established in 2014 immediately following the South Napa earthquake, has been reactivated. Those wishing to make donations can contribute via the Community Foundation of Napa Valley’s website. The Community Foundation plans to begin distributing funds to those in need in the coming days.





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