A look at Wine Country one year after devastating wildfires

Published: Oct. 8, 2018 at 4:57 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

One year ago, the Atlas Fire moved quickly and without warning across the hillsides of Napa Valley.

"We got hit within the first hour of the fire starting that night," said Raymond Signorello, Owner of Signorello Estate.

The flames destroyed a home, offices and a hospitality center at Signorello Estate, but spared the wine barrels and the winery's crush pad, where grapes are crushed and fermented turning them into wine.

"So that, we were very fortunate it made it through this because otherwise, we couldn't be making wine here."

Many in the region didn't know until last year that vineyards are a natural fire break, so hardly any burned. Tuesday, the winery will hold a groundbreaking for a new facility and there's already a temporary tasting room.

Although the fires were devastating, tourism officials say there was a lingering misperception that Wine Country had burned down. Signorello was one of only a handful of wineries in Napa County out of more than 400 that were destroyed or severely damaged.

In Sonoma County, only Paradise Ridge Winery was lost out of more than 425 wineries. A sculpture garden is still there and tours are available. There's also a tasting room nearby.

There were other close calls- including at Kenzo Estate in Napa- where vineyard manager Santiago Avina fought the flames alongside firefighters.

"Without him, I think we would have lost houses, maybe even the winery," said Marc Nanes, a winemaker with the estate.

At Kenzo, new vegetation is sprouting in the charred hilltops, one sign of the land's rebirth.