Heat damage, smoke taint, and total loss of fruit: California vintners hit by last October’s devastating wildfires are dealing with major stresses as they await this spring’s early bud break. Most growers still do not know how much harm was done to their damaged vines (and they won’t learn the effects until a few weeks after the first flowering begins). Bud break this year is expected to occur no later than mid-March.
After that, vintners will be able to watch their plants carefully to note any changes or abnormalities. Some are fearing a worst-case scenario where they will have to rip up and replant their vines, but most are remaining optimistic.
Optimism is bolstered by a recent survey by the Wine Business Institute of Sonoma State University. The survey found that 99.8% of the region’s North Coast vineyards were not affected by the fires. Most of the heat related damage occurred in the Sonoma Valley, the Fountaingrove district near Santa Rosa, and Atlas Peak in Napa County.
Here’s wishing the best to all of the region’s determined vintners — and also to their vines.