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Everyone In Napa and Sonoma Has A Fire Story

By Charles Olken

It’s all we talk about. It’s all we think about. Yes, those of us who are not removed or in the path of the fires can take time out to do other things like our regular tasting schedule. The folks around the table last night were wine people. They buy wine or make wine or write about wine, and they all know wine country like the back of their hands.

The newsreaders show us pictures without knowing as much as we know. Flames in Napa at 1100 PM? We recognize the winery as Shafer. And we know that wineries near them like Stags’ Leap and Signorello and Sinskey and Darioush and White Rock have all had significant damage—some of which is catastrophic. What will we find when the news crews go back in tomorrow morning? We tasted the Shafer Relentless tonight, and it was its usual big, brash and attention-grabbing self. But it is not the Shafer story tonight. Not this night. The safety of the winery and its people is story.

We just got a note from Aaron Pott and family telling us all that they are OK so far, including their vineyards on Mt. Veeder. But, as we head off to bed, the flames are coming over the hill from Sonoma and are heading into the Mt. Veeder area. What will the Potts find in the morning?

There are a dozen or more wineries from Napa to Sonoma to Mendocino that are in ashes tonight. How many more are there about which we worry because they are in burned out areas but no word can be found about the Seps Family at Storybook Mountain or the folks at DuMOL.

Their stories are about to be written. And we worry. Dozens are dead. Thousands have lost houses or places of employment and tens of thousands are displaced.

Here are a few places we check online for information—

Napa Register
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Napa County
Sonoma County

And here in wine country, coverage on TV is just about 24/7. If you are local, you already know that. If you are not, and you want more coverage, you might check some of those stations for online coverage and streaming news.

The stations we watch are—


It is now 1:30 in the morning. I am about to go to bed to the smell of ashes and smoke. Tens of thousands in wine country will not sleep very comfortably tonight.


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