Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
Fighting the Fires in Wine Country
The damage to the industry, which was almost completely shut down, has yet to be fully calculated, but these pictures tell the tale.
Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
You can finally see the stars in the night sky again, more than a week after wildfires ravaged seven counties in Northern California’s wine country, blocking off the sky in the region for days. Almost all the fires are now contained. But the costs have been immense: at least 41 people found dead, with almost half that toll in the town of Santa Rosa; close to 6,000 structures destroyed; and more than 245,000 acres scorched. At least 11,000 firefighters—including 1,700 minimum security inmates who volunteer to help with forest services—worked the fire lines.
The damage to the area’s wine industry, which was almost completely shut down by the fires, has yet to be fully calculated. There was fear that vineyards may have been destroyed by the flames. (The harvest had been mostly completed in many of the fields.) There was also concern about the effect of smoke on the grapes. Still, says Kelly Carter of Alpha Omega Winery in Rutherford, about 20 miles from Santa Rosa, “We’re getting back to normal. My winery and many others have opened. I smell grapes being harvested and processed.”