From harvest moon to devastating fires…we get by with a little help from our friends

Timing is everything! We harvested our vineyard on Friday October 6th. Picking started at 4:00am using headlamps, with a full moon overhead. Having the assistance of the Harvest Moon was certainly appropriate. Grapes were at the winery by 10am and through the destemmer and optical sorter by 2:00. The grapes were still in their cold soak phase on Sunday the 8th, and we turned in early after sipping a bit of sparkling wine in celebration of my birthday (and yes, 7 tons of grapes had made for a nice birthday present).

Just before mid-night a neighbor from the top of Diamond Mountain woke us up and shouted to leave immediately due to fire. We grabbed the neighbor’s cat who had been visiting and headed for the nearest safe place which was the parking lot of Twomey Winery, surrounded by vineyards. We could see the fire erupting on both ends of the valley. We spent the night in the car and returned to our place as it turned out the closest fire was sweeping towards Santa Rosa with sad results.

On Wednesday with a change in the wind, we evacuated again along with the entire town of Calistoga. We headed first to Berkeley (commuting distance and home to Bill’s sister who so generously took us in), then to the Sonoma Coast (still with the cat). On Friday we were able to return briefly to the valley to organize inoculation of our fermentor. Along the way we saw flames coming over from Sonoma, threatening Oakville and Rutherford. With mandatory evacuation still in place for the Calistoga area, and heavy smoke making breathing difficult, we retreated back to the coast.

We are so grateful that our grapes are fermenting deep in the caves of Arkenstone, where we have made our wine the last several years, and especially grateful for their dedicated crew who continue to do punch-downs and pump-overs utilizing generators as the power has been out for days. Cal Fire just gave the ok to “repopulate” Calistoga and Diamond Mountain so back we go. No one can say that 2017 doesn’t have a story- challenging, scary… and devastating for so many. But we got by with a little help from our friends!