Fires give wineries, hotels another challenge as summer winds down

1 September 2020

In recent years, when wildfire smoke choked the air in Sonoma County, Clay Mauritson, co-owner of Mauritson Wines in the Dry Creek Valley, would close the winery’s outdoor patio and only host visitors inside the tasting room.

This time around, however, coronavirus restrictions on indoor dining and drinking have taken that option off the table. So after the Walbridge fire erupted in the hills near Healdsburg two weeks ago, Mauritson decided to close the winery to the public until Sept. 2.

That’s meant canceled wine tasting reservations and lost revenue for the family-owned operation as it recovers from a nearly three-month, pandemic-induced shutdown that was lifted in late May.

“We’re going to roll with the punches,” Mauritson said. “That’s what the theme of this year has been.”

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