Northern California Wildfires Could Sour State’s Wine Market

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It’s still too early to know the full extent of the damage to California’s multi-billion dollar wine industry, but many wine enthusiasts including those Downtown L.A.’s San Antonio Winery are concerned.

More than a dozen wineries have been damaged or destroyed by the fires ravaging Northern California.

At Paradise Ridge in hard-hit Santa Rosa, nearly 100,000 bottles from this year’s harvest are gone and tanks full of sauvignon blanc burned.

Napa and Sonoma produce some of the highest-quality grapes in the world and the impact on California’s nearly $60 billion a year wine industry could be severe, with some experts predicting a total loss of more than $100 million.

Dominic Menton is a manager at San Antonio Winery which has a vineyard up north that has not been affected by the flames, but he still worries about the heavy smoke and possibility of tainted grapes.

“So you get this smokey taste in the grape which could have an effect. but we don’t know yet.”

The only silver lining for the wine industry was the late summer’s hot weather. That sped up the ripening process and led to earlier-than-usual harvests. But wine drinker Sabrina Pacheco says she’s worried that prices might go up, so she bought an entire case just to be safe.

“I feel like it’s going to make the prices go up, and it’s going to hurt the uniqueness of every different wine that’s out there,” Pacheco  said.

Since some of her favorite wines come from areas now grappling with so much tragedy Pacheco said her last glass tasted especially bittersweet.

“It makes me more appreciative of wines. Makes me think more about like what if all the wineries I loved went under? what would I do then?”

Coincidentally this Saturday, San Antonio Winery will hold a major celebration here for its 100th anniversary. Thousands of are expected to attend.

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