Oct 30, 2019
Respirators at wine estate wedding show growers’ hazard

The viral photo of a bride and groom wearing respirators in a smoky vineyard is a window into a common workplace issue for winegrapes growers and their staff.

The photo, taken by KMR Photography’s Karna Roa, was featured in newscasts by TV news stations across the country on Tuesday. News reports indicated the smoke likely came as a result of the Kincade Fire in Lake County.

Roa wrote in an Instagram post that the couple had flown from Chicago for a wedding in the Sonoma Valley’s Chateau St Jean.


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The St. Jean Estate Vineyard in Sonoma Valley has 270 acres, 93 of which are planted on the hillside and valley floor with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Viognier and Gewurztraminer, according to the vineyard’s website.

Smoke from wildfires often provide workplace hazards for winegrape growers. California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Department of Industrial Relations warned farm labor contractors on Monday, Oct. 28 to take steps to protect workers from harmful exposure to wildfire smoke.

“California’s protection from wildfire smoke standard applies to workplaces where the Air Quality Index (AQI) for fine particles in the air is 151 or greater and where workers may be exposed to wildfire smoke,” according to an advisory sent by OSHA. “Smoke from wildfires contains chemicals, gases and fine particles that can harm health. The greatest hazard comes from breathing fine particles in the air (called PM2.5), which can reduce lung function, worsen asthma and other existing heart and lung conditions, and cause coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.”

Employers were asked to monitor AQI for particulate matter in the air using a number of websites, and take action if the air quality became too poor.

At 151 PM2.5, California employers must to communicate with employees, provide training, modification to the workplace and changes in work schedules, and provide respirators for voluntary use, according to the advisory notice.

“If the AQI for PM2.5 exceeds 500, respirator use is required,” according to the notice.

Stephen Kloosterman, associate editor

Above: A map generated by shows daily combined Air Quality Index in California and Nevada for Sunday, Oct. 27. Photo:

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