A few months after the fires of mid-October, the Napa Valley is starting its rebuilding after the worst fires in its history. Oddly enough, the vineyards themselves are presenting a story of resilience. One after the other, agricultural, fire, and wine industry analysts are marveling at how the firefighters and the vineyards worked together to save the land and the lives of those who live and work in the region.
While the firefighters focused on saving lives and homes, the vineyards kept the fires from doing even more damage, often serving as firebreaks. Though he lost a building, Ray Signorello told the L.A. Times that his vines “appeared to be almost 100% intact. The fire just came up to the edge of the vineyard and stopped.” Christian Palmaz of the Henry Hagen Estate also reported, “Those vineyards are absolutely a godsend. Ninety percent of [our] property is wild land. It all burned, except the vineyard.”
Greg Clark, Napa’s agricultural commissioner, noted that “it looks as though flames that went through vineyards did so quickly, without igniting vines.” Another factor is the relatively open space of vineyards, allowing more moisture to be retained than in oak forests. Although many buildings were lost, we can be thankful that the vineyards and the age-old vines held their ground.