Sonoma winery flees mid-harvest, Napa evacuations expand

The LNU Complex Fire, which includes multiple fires burning in Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties, grew rapidly Wednesday night, causing expanded evacuations across wine country and even forcing some wineries to cease operations mid-harvest.

The fires have burned a total of 103,000 acres and are zero percent contained, Cal Fire reports.

In Sonoma County, fires threaten the Sonoma Coast, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley American Viticultural Areas (AVA). Evacuations are happening as some producers, including global sparkling wine producer Korbel Champagne Cellars, begin their harvest activities.

Korbel, which is east of Guerneville, was ordered to evacuate Tuesday night just as the crew was picking grapes, the Press Democrat reports. Korbel had expected to complete grape picking by Labor Day weekend. Instead, farmworkers left the vineyards, and the winery, like many in the area, is closed because of the Walbridge fire.

Jenner’s Fort Ross Vineyard and Winery, another significant producer in the evacuation zone, posted on Facebook late Wednesday night that they are safe. “Our vineyard and tasting room made it through the night,” they wrote. “We are very grateful for all of the firefighters working tirelessly to keep our community safe. Special thanks to the Fort Ross Volunteer Fire Department and their coordination with Cal-Fire.”

In a statement published on Facebook, Sonoma County Winegrowers said: “Our thoughts are with our winegrowers in Dry Creek Valley and West County who are dealing with evacuations and fire danger right at the start of the harvest season. Please know we are here to help you in any way possible.”

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An evacuation warning has also been issued for the entire city of Healdsburg.

In Napa County, where the Hennessey Fire continues to rage and caused damage to outbuildings belonging to Nichelini Family Winery, a new evacuation order issued at 7:30 p.m. included the entire communities of Angwin and Deer Park and the east side of Highway 29 from the Lake County line to the Silverado Trail as well as the east side of the Silverado Trail from Highway 29 to Highway 128.

The nearby Kulenta Estate and Kenzo Estate fall within the mandatory evacuation zone, but remain unaffected right now.

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