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US: Wine Country Threatened By Wildfires Among Largest in California’s History

OK, a more accurate title would have been “Everything in California Threatened by Wildfires Among Largest in State’s History”, but this is still a food blog (or maybe I’m just using that as an excuse to plug non-food topics in a food blog, who knows).

To understand how big the fires actually are, here’s a wildfire map from DesertSun.

If that’s a little too zoomed out for you, check out the pictures in this tweet:

Data from USAToday shows that there had been more than 600 blazes, sparked by 12,000 lightning strikes in the past week. 1.2 million acres of land torched, 1,000 homes and other structures burned, and 6 people killed. More than 230,000 people were given evacuation orders or warnings. Two of the blazes were said to be the second and third largest in the state’s history.

To be clear, California always had a history of wildfires, but they have been noticeably getting worse.

Even with a history of wildfires, the following abstract from a New York Times article is still too surreal for my tastes:

In wine country, the L.N.U. Lightning Complex fire has spread to 341,243 acres throughout five counties, including Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Still, some local residents seemed unfazed, expressing a weary acceptance. They’re used to this.

“It’s the new normal — what next?” said Bulah Cartwright, the manager of Inti, a clothing and jewelry store in Napa. “We’ve had earthquakes, fires, flooding. It’s exhausting, but we’ll get through. We’ve gotten through worse.”

Wine country residents are well aware of the perils posed by wildfires. The Tubbs fire swept through the area in 2017, devastating the town of Santa Rosa and killing 22 people. Last year, the Kincade Fire destroyed hundreds of buildings, including much of the Soda Rock winery in Healdsburg.

But shop owners and residents said on Saturday that they were more concerned that the smoke and flames might drive away the tourists upon which the region relies.

That’s a bit too chill, don’t you think?

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So, About the Wineries

Wine Country is a region in California known for its more than 800 wineries and extensive culinary choices. Vintners now face a double-whammy of the pandemic and a wildfire crisis (click the link for details in specific regions).

Thus far, not many wineries have actually suffered damage. Most wineries have lots of defensible space and firefighters are able to protect much of their property. Though, the fire has complicated the schedules for grape picking, and smoke from the fire remains a concern as it could ruin entire harvests.

The fires are still ongoing, so the final extent of the damage remains to be seen.

For updates on the California fires, I recommend checking out The Guardian.

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