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Wine Spectator: As Kincade Wildfire Spreads, California Governor Declares Statewide Emergency

October 28, 2019

As feared, California’s Kincade wildfire moved rapidly through Sonoma County over the weekend, burning thousands of additional acres and claiming both Soda Rock and Field Stone wineries.

Dozens of other wineries sit in the danger zone, but with evacuation orders in place, most vintners are unable to check on their buildings and vineyards. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had already declared a local state of emergency for Sonoma County, has upgraded the alert to a full statewide emergency.

According to an update last night from the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the Kincade fire has burned 54,298 acres since it began four nights ago. (By comparison, the 2017 fires that hit Sonoma, Nuns and Tubbs, burned roughly 56,000 and 36,000 acres, respectively.) Containment has fallen to just 5%. Two firefighters were injured yesterday while fighting the blaze, the first reported injuries.

Wind gusts soared from Saturday night into Sunday morning along the fire lines, pushing flames toward more populated areas, including Healdsburg and Geyserville. Firefighters attacked the blaze aggressively, defending structures and dealing with downed trees and powerlines. Additional evacuations were ordered before dawn Sunday for northern Santa Rosa as spot fires flared up near the town of Windsor; Sunday afternoon the northern Napa Valley city of Calistoga was added to the evacuation warning zones. Overall, more than 190,000 people have evacuated the region.

While Soda Rock and Field Stone were lost to the flames, other vintners remain hopeful that their properties will emerge unscathed. The team at Alexander Valley Vineyards reports that their winery was spared. “[The fire] went through very fast … to be honest we were extremely lucky,” Harry Wetzel, head of operations, told Wine Spectator.

Peter Kay, director of sales and marketing at Peter Michael Winery, which is in Knights Valley, told Wine Spectator, “Updates from the property are sparse. Our ranch manager is onsite. Thus far, we appear to have dodged the bullet. No damage to the winery buildings or vineyards. Fingers crossed that it stays that way.” Wine Spectator will continue to monitor the situation as it develops.

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