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Wildfire Assessment Study Underway for North Coast Wine Industry

Brian German Industry, Nuts & Grapes

The Wine Business Institute (WBI) at Sonoma State University is orchestrating an assessment study of the damage to the area’s wine industry caused by the multiple wildfires. The project was initially launched on October 11th and involves personnel from multiple sectors.

Assessment StudyExecutive in Residence at WBI Honore Comfort noted that “because of our resources, and the role that we play in the industry, that we had an opportunity to step in and provide an objective, accurate and fact-based assessment of the impacts of the wildfires on the North Coast wine industry.”

Comfort noted William Hill Estate Winery as an example of why the assessment study was necessary. Multiple conflicting reports were circulating varying degrees of damage to the winery, with some stories indicating a total loss. However, the winery did not actually suffer any damage to their wine-making or hospitality facilities. The company sign was merely damaged, and a portion of the front lawn was burned.

“What we were seeing immediately following the fire was that, in fact, the direct impact of the fire on the wine industry in terms of winery buildings and vineyards was actually far less than the way that it was being conveyed through reports in the media,” said Comfort.

The team that is compiling all the data consists of economists, regional association executives, scientists and industry leaders.  From the information gathered Comfort noted they “hope to put together plans for short, moderate, and long-term recovery and revitalization of the industry.”

Preliminary information from the assessment study is estimated to come out early next year. A complete report featuring plans for moving forward is projected to be released at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Listen to the full segment.
Honore Comfort