Handful of Sonoma County wineries evacuate due to wildfires during harvest

in News
Erik Castro / For The Press Democrat

The North Coast wine grape harvest has been thrown into uncertainty by an unusual August combination of extreme heat, rain and lightning that ignited wildfires forcing evacuations in western Sonoma and eastern Napa counties, including some wineries that shuttered in the midst of their busiest season.

Most notably in Sonoma, global winemaker Korbel Champagne Cellars east of Guerneville was ordered to evacuate Tuesday night just as it was in the thick of harvesting grapes used in its sparkling wines. It had its first pick on Aug. 3, company spokeswoman Margie Healy said.

“We heard from our winemaker as of yesterday that this was going to be a short and very intense harvest,” Healy said.

Korbel expected to pick all of its grapes by Labor Day weekend, now those plans are on hold. Crews of pickers have left the vineyards and the winery is closed. The company employs 320 people locally.

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