As the Kincade Fire burns through Sonoma County, grape growers are reliving the challenges from the 2017 fire season. Roughly two years ago, fires burned through Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Mendocino, Butte and Solano counties. Those fires led to the evacuation of thousands of residents, who returned to fallen homes, businesses and burned farmland. The Kincade Fire which started less than a week ago on October 23, has devastated more than 75,000 acres taking down homes, wineries and creating challenges for grape growers who are wrapping up the harvest.
According to Jeff Bitter President of Allied Grape Growers, producers in the Sonoma County area have been impacted and are stuck in the unknown. ”There are a number of our growers affected. Most have already harvested, but some haven’t. Getting a hold of them is difficult. Besides the area generally not having that great of cell reception to begin with, most people North of Hwy. 12 are evacuated and not even at their homes to know what is going on. I talked to a grower yesterday that was barely able to get some grapes picked Saturday and then Monday’s was canceled. We had another grower that picked Sunday night, as scheduled and delivered to the winery yesterday morning only to discover the power had been cut and there was no way to dump the truck. There are some difficulties similar to 2017, but thankfully, the industry, communities, and residents are better prepared for the issues surrounding wildfire, therefore achieving a greater degree of preservation of life and property.”
On Tuesday, Cal Fire had only 15 percent of the Kincade Fire contained. It is one of nearly a dozen fires burning in California.