The Long and Winding Road

Even as wineries resume operations, there’s still some concern that the grapes on the vine when the wildfires began may have been tainted by exposure to smoke. As the fires raged, crews worked overtime to pick grapes before they would be affected, but it’s impossible to tell if the smoke will affect a wine’s taste before it’s actually been made. Luckily, unusually high temperatures in September prompted many growers to pick their grapes for the season earlier than usual — so as long as their storerooms weren’t damaged in the fire, their wines should still be drinkable (and profitable). For vineyards that did suffer extreme damage, however, it could take three to five years to nurse the soil back to health (and its full wine production potential).

Although the wildfires seriously disrupted the wine supply chain in Napa Valley, other areas have thankfully been spared. The wines out of Napa and Sonoma are typically pricier vintages, but the majority of California’s wine comes from the Central Valley, which was not affected by the wildfires. This means that wine enthusiasts who opt for mid-range wine will not see much of a change in price or selection when they head to their local wine shop to pick up a bottle of their favorite red.


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