Californian wine industry reacts with defiance to fires

Wineries in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma are battling to finish harvest and fermentations as wildfire rages across the region, according to the Wine Institute of California.

The industry body said its thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have been impacted by the fires, but it put out a defiant statement about the resilience of its members.

It said that fewer than 10 of the 1,200 wineries in the region have been destroyed or heavily damaged, and that the wine communities in these Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino will soon emerge stronger than ever.

“The vintners will make outstanding wines from the 2017 vintage, which enjoyed an excellent growing season,” it said.

It added that due to heat in late August and early September, 90% of grapes in Napa and 75% of grapes in Mendocino had already been picked before the fires.

It is mainly Cabernet that remains on the vine, according to the Wine Institute, and it believes it can withstand the smoke in the short term.

Smoke taint is the big issue the industry faces in terms of the quality of the wine, but the Wine Institute said it is “premature” to discuss this.

“Fires have destroyed or damaged a reported 5,700 structures – mainly homes, and many belonging to people who work in the California wine industry – but loss and damage to wineries and vineyards has not been widespread,” it said. 
“The vintners in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma will make outstanding wines from the 2017 vintage, which enjoyed an excellent growing season.”

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