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Wine Spectator: Wildfires Rage in Multiple California Wine Regions

August 20, 2020

Wildfires have joined the pandemic and the economy on the list of 2020 challenges for California winemakers. An unseasonal and unprecedented series of thunderstorms blew through Northern California late Sunday night and early Monday morning, bringing lightning strikes that ignited dozens of blazes. A significant heat wave coupled with persistent winds has stoked the fires, five of which are within Napa County and have since grown to burn a combined 42,000 acres, with no containment so far.

Cal Fire has named this cluster and two fires in Sonoma County the Lake-Napa Unit (LNU) Lightning Complex. Each of the Napa fires are located in the rural eastern hills above St. Helena and Rutherford. One of the fires, dubbed Hennessey, exploded in size and spread southeast into neighboring Solano County toward Vacaville (population 100,000), a city between San Francisco and Sacramento, prompting widespread evacuations.

The fires had mostly been consuming dry vegetation in the first 48 hours. Late Tuesday, just three structures had burned. But by Wednesday morning that number had grown to 50, with thousands threatened. The Hennessey fire and nearby Gamble fire initially endangered wineries and vineyards near Pope and Chiles valleys, including Napa’s oldest family-owned winery, Nichelini. Wine Spectator has more.—Aaron Romano

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