Eric and Katy brought in our final 3 tons of grapes last Thursday morning. As the grapes were hand-sorted, water tankers and fire fighting planes were taking off and landing at the STS airport near us at the winery and heading north on their way to the Kincade Fire. The fire began on Wednesday night October 23 around 9:30pm.
Last Wednesday evening we had supper at the lovely owners home of our Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon vineyard on Sonoma Mountain. Katy and her main squeeze David joined us as well as Randy who's the vineyard consultant. We all remarked how unusually warm it felt when walking the vineyards at sunset, it actually felt as though we were sitting inside a Drybar! After explaining to the guys what a Drybar and hair blow-out was (Ali is a VIP member of course), we proceeded to share one of the most delicious meals of the year together while talking about our organic focus of the property.
Around 10:30 that evening we said our goodbyes and gave our hugs, then headed to our home about 20 minutes away in Santa Rosa and noticed that 1) the winds were whipping pretty good now 2) the outside temperature was 83 degrees, both of these factors were very odd. We fell asleep late that evening after reading reports about a fire in the hills high up in Alexander Valley AVA. Our first worry was for our friends like Jimtown Store, Chef Liza of The Spinster Sisters, Carpenter Wine, Hawkes, Silver Oak and Medlock Ames... an area with several wineries and numerous homes and farms full of families right and extra vineyard workers right now. We were glad to hear they were all alerted that night to the nearby fire.
We woke up early on Thursday to check on our last grape harvest on Pickberry Vineyard and also to the noise much like we heard in 2017, an active fire in the area with fire trucks and plans on attack. By Thursday evening the fire had grown and we began hearing news of massive evacuation and PG&E power shut offs. Unlike the 2017 which caught all of us off-guard, our city and county officials had a plan. By Saturday over 100,000 folks were under mandatory evacuation in all towns within 20 minutes of our home to the North and West of us. Eric had left on Friday to run the Anderson Valley tasting room and Ali stayed back to finalize a big accounting project. After 3 nights of barely any sleep, she made the trek up to join Eric on Sunday morning, lucky to get through the thick smoke and between HWY 101 closures in Windsor.
Windsor is where our winery - Grand Cru Custom Crush and two warehouses are located. Smith Story Wine Cellars has a combined 2000 cases of inventory here. The fight fighters fought with all their force to block flames from crossing from east Windsor over HWY 101 to the westside. They also saved thousands of homes in the area, the videos like this one shows nothing short of heroism.
As of today, we're on Day 5 of no power in the Anderson Valley and in Sonoma County (no complaints other than it is COLD up here and Ali's still working on our big accounting project) and the winery and Windsor warehouses are still under mandatory evacuation.
What about the 2019 wines? Our newborns are doing fine! 4 tanks are fermenting and we were able to control and cool the temps before evacuation. Eric and Katy have been diligent with our Grand Cru cellar manager about our needs until we can get back in. Not ideal, but we have to trust the situation. All our wines in barrel and tank are sealed tight and resting in the barrel rooms. Everything is A-OK! Grateful that Grand Cru is a smart new building and a generator was brought in to keep power on during PG&E shut downs.
But... not the way we wanted this long but beautiful harvest to end. We are thankful that no lives were lost and that over 5000 fire fighters, national guard, police forces and all first responders have been protecting our wine country community. The fire is 30% contained as of this morning and they continue to fight! We still can't believe this is all happening again, just when the anxiety of the 2017 fires were fading. The power-outage due to PG&E business failures have hurt our community far more this time around. Nobody is working, none of us can get much work done with zero to little electricity and gas. The losses to our local restaurants, grocery stores are monumental too. I do know this, this community is strong and we are not afraid of rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work. However, it's going to take everyone in the world who loves the land here, the products made from here and the people here to turn their support to help us end the year with a smile or two.
Please stay close, we are working on easy ways to support Smith Story Wine Cellars during the holidays that we'll be announcing in a few days. Ali had to postpone her roadtrip with Sandwich that was to begin next week with events in Oklahoma. This trip will most likely be rescheduled for December with Eric joining as well! More soon and thank you for all your loyal support and friendship. Until then, catch us in the Anderson Valley hosting wine tasters by sunlight!
This is Our Story.
Love, Eric, Ali, Will and Lord Sandwich