Wine Business Blog Wine Business Follow us on Twitter Wine Business Blog RSS Subscribe to Wine Business Blog by Email Wine Industry Blogs Wine Industry Classifieds Wine Industry Events Wine News Archives Wine People News Vineyard Weather Wine Jobs
Saturday, October 14, 2017
October 14, 2017 | 9:55 AM
Friday, October 13, 2017
by Kerana Todorov | October 13, 2017 | 3:19 PM

As of 1 p.m. Friday, plumes of white and dark brown smoke and flames from the Nuns fire were visible from Oakville Grade Road west of Oakville (pictured, right). Law enforcement stopped non-emergency traffic near the Dry Creek-Loyola Volunteer Fire Department in the 5900 block of Dry Creek Road.

Cal Fire firefighters and air resources were trying to keep the fire from progressing further into the Napa Valley, according to Cal Fire. The Napa County Sheriff’s Department issued an evacuation advisory for the areas west of Highway 29, from Oakville Grade to Rutherford Road.

“That west side of the valley is going to be a priority for us today,” Barry Biermann, Cal Fire deputy incident, told reporters Friday morning.

The Nuns fire has burned about 44,400 acres in Sonoma and Napa County, according to Cal Fire.
“But particularly of concern on the Napa County side of the fire is the area of Dry Creek Road, Lokoya, Mt. Veeder, as well as areas up above Rutherford and St. Helena,” Biermann said.

“Those are areas that we do have fire coming on the Napa County side,” said Biermann, who is also Napa County’s fire chief.

The Tubbs fire, which has burned 34,770 acres and devastated neighborhoods in Santa Rosa and was 25 percent contained. However, Cal Fire was particularly concerned about the west side of the Tubbs fire near Robert Louis Stevenson State Park above Calistoga. The town of 5,100 people was evacuated Wednesday.

On another front, Cal Fire continued to try to stop the progress of the fire near Lake Berryessa, where the blaze threatens 300 homes at Berryessa Highlands.

As of Friday morning, the Atlas fire was 27 percent contained, Biermann said. “Great progress is being made here. Resources out there are doing an amazing job. They’re tired, they’re working hard, but we’re making great progress on this incident.”

In the meantime, dozens of wineries have closed their doors to the public. In Yountville, some restaurants remain closed, including the French Laundry and Hurley’s Restaurant.



October 13, 2017 | 2:59 PM


October 13, 2017 | 2:37 PM



October 13, 2017 | 11:03 AM


This is the newest map showing the Tubbs, Nuns and Atlas fires.

Click here for a higher resolution pic.

Patrick is now part of Nuns.

Atlas is managed from Napa.

Nuns is managed from Santa Rosa.




by prnewswire | October 13, 2017 | 10:58 AM

E. & J. Gallo Winery Will Contribute $1 Million To Fire Recovery Effort And Will Match Employee Donations Two-For-One

MODESTO, Calif., Oct. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Joseph E. Gallo, chief executive officer of the E. & J. Gallo Winery, announced today that the family-owned company is donating $1 million to aid the fire recovery effort. The money will be divided among the American Red Cross California Wildfires Relief Fund, the Community Foundation of Sonoma and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. In addition, Gallo will match employee donations two-for-one.

"It is devastating to learn that our colleagues, friends, growers and neighbors have suffered such great losses. We hope they are given the strength, fortitude, and endurance to deal with these adversities," said Gallo.

October 13, 2017 | 9:15 AM

Walla Walla, Washington, USA – October 12, 2017 – In an effort to aid in the relief for the ongoing fire devastation in California, Drew and Maura Bledsoe, proprietors of Doubleback winery, are opening their cellar and donating 100% of profits on a special library offering of Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon to the Napa Valley Community Foundation and its Disaster Relief Fund. As a result of a letter sent to Doubleback customers yesterday announcing this effort, the response has been overwhelming and we want to broaden the outreach to raise as many funds as possible.

This letter was sent on October 11, 2017:

We are sure that many of you have been witnessing the devastating wildfires in California. Over the years, we have made tremendous personal and professional relationships, garnered mentors, memories, friends, and acquired a remarkable amount of respect for the Napa and Sonoma areas and its historic wine industry. It is too difficult for us to sit idly by and not help in the recovery. Therefore, now through this Saturday, we will break into our cellar and have a special library release. We will donate 100% of all profits to the Napa Valley Community Foundation and its Disaster Relief Fund.

Please click "contribute" below, call the winery at 509-525-3334, or reply to this email to help this cause.

The wine industry, no matter the valley or location, is tight knit and we want to make sure to play our part in helping our friends.

Drew Bledsoe, Proprietor & Josh McDaniels, Winemaker & GM

A write-up by the New England Patriots website states:

Wildfires have been ravaging northern California for days, destroying everything in their wake. The destruction that has killed dozens, ruined homes and displaced hundreds has left many wondering how they can help.

Among those looking for something -- anything -- to do to raise money was former Patriot Drew Bledsoe. In his life after football, Drew has made his longtime dream of owning a winery a reality. Drew, alongside Winemaker and General Manager Josh McDaniels, run Doubleback Winery in Walla Walla, Wash.

Despite being outside of the famed Napa Valley, the wine community is a small one, and both Drew and Josh have friends, colleagues and mentors who have been impacted by the fires, so they decided to do something.

While Doubleback sold out of its wine for the season, the crew broke into its wine library, bottles that are saved for historical and learning purposes, and is having a special library release. All of the proceeds from bottles sold will benefit the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, according to Josh.

"Right now we're in the middle of harvest season. We have a lot of friends and business relationships down there. Our heart goes out to them," Josh said. "Seeing some of those photos, you can't even fathom what it would be like to be going through that."

The fundraising efforts will run through Saturday, Oct. 14, and so far, Josh said the support from Doubleback's customers has exceeded his expectations.

"It's been tremendous. It's been great to hear from our friends who are struggling, saying 'Thank you so much for doing this,'" Josh said. "Our customers had the same sentiment after seeing someone like Drew use the winery to help support people."

Those who are interested in ordering bottles of wine to support the cause can order through Doubleback’s website at or call the winery at 509-525-3334. For those who want to make a direct donation, we recommend they go directly to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund to do so. The link for that is:

Thursday, October 12, 2017
October 12, 2017 | 6:24 PM

The Napa, Sonoma, and Lake County Regions were hit with multiple fires late Sunday night and for many of our employees, life looks different. We are grieving for those who have lost or have damage to their homes and we are grateful none of our TWE Family suffered personal injury or loss of life.

We are relieved to find our beloved Stags’ Leap and Chateau St. Jean Wineries are still standing and relatively unscathed through the heroic efforts of our local, regional and national first responders.

We know it will take a collective effort to help rebuild our community and TWE is committed to help those who have been impacted.

Joining hands with our employees and the community, Treasury Wine Estates is making a contribution of $100,000 to support those affected by wildfires in the Napa and Sonoma Regions by donating $50,000 each to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the Sonoma County Community Foundation Resilience Fund. We are encouraging others to join us in these efforts.

We are incredibly grateful to the brave and tireless work of the first response teams from all over the world who are working around the clock to keep our community safe. We look forward to working together to rebuild our communities in the wake of this tragedy. #winecountrystrong

October 12, 2017 | 12:53 PM



by Michael Lasky | October 12, 2017 | 12:31 PM

Even if your winery or vineyard has so far escaped damage from the wine country wildfires, Blank Rome LLP attorney and insurance recover expert Linda Kornfeld says find your insurance policy immediately.

Kornfeld supplied Wine Business Monthly a quick checklist for wineries and vineyard owners to follow whether they have suffered damage or loss or not.

1. Find your insurance policy

2. Give notice to your insurance company, especially before making decisions to spend money

3. If you can’t get ahold of your insurance company, read your policy and know where the sticky points are

Sticky points: referring to grapes as “crops” or “stock”; what state the grapes are in (i.e. growth, removed from vines, in vats); state of destruction (i.e. vine isn’t destroyed, but grapes are smoke infiltrated); what constitutes covered loss/damage; who bears the burden of proving what happened; independent adjuster versus public adjuster

4. Gather documents to establish what your financial obligations to others are and who has financial obligations to you; and, what your historical profits have been and how you’ll prove damage

Kornfeld cautions wineries and vineyard owners to the different type of policies concerning grapes. Crop insurance applies generally to vines and grapes on the vines. “But once the grapes are off the vine, and they're in the vats, and they're fermenting, and the manufacturing process is happening, they're no longer a crop, and at that point you're looking at traditional property insurance or traditional business interruption insurance. So you're no longer talking about this specific grape on the vine, and the volatility of that grape, now that it's in a vat or barrel. Instead we are trying to value it based upon the language used in a traditional property policy.,” advises Kornfeld.

What is the right time to give notice to the insurance company – while the threat of fire is active or after the fact?

“It's as soon as you can. It's really what's reasonable circumstances. You would like your insurance company involved as soon as possible to help make decisions about money that you should spend, or money that you think you should spend, to respond to the event, to try to litigate your losses, to address issues that you're experiencing because of what's happened at your property. So, to the extent that the insurance company can be involved immediately, then that's the best approach,” states Kornfeld.

When there is partial damage to certain blocks of grapevines how damage is assessed falls into a fuzzy legal area according to Kornfeld.“ It’s a question that has been debated among policy holders and insurers for years every time there is a natural disaster event. And in this situation, I think that this question will be one that gets debated in even greater detail because how do you determine the value of the loss?. You lose a grape, and it's the year 2017, and those who have been thinking about the grapes this year, and the wine that will be made from those grapes have concluded that 2017 likely was going to be a great year. So, do you just replace grapes, or do you replace grapes that are of the 2017 vintage based upon historical data about other vintages that were also identified to be seller vintages? Do you replace them based on some other model?

“It's certainly going to depend in part on the policy language, but it's also going to depend upon the policy holder's ability to explain why these particular grapes, or if the wine was already in process of being produced, why this year and these grapes should be valued higher than maybe last year's vintage or the last five years. The debate between insurance holders and insurance companies is which historical data should be used to determine the value of the loss. Much depends on how your policy is written,” explains Kornfeld.
With the wide spread devastation and the sheer number of claims it will produce, the entire process of securing payments will take longer than usual. Accordingly, contacting insurance companies as soon as possible will get wineries higher in the line of attention.

A reader comments: 

Hi, I wanted to comment that Crop Insurance does not apply to vines at all. Only to the fruit on the vines. The article seems to imply that the crop insurance policy may have some coverage for damage to vines; this is not the case. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Regards, Greg

Got a tip? Tell us
Search WB Blog
Recent Posts - fine writing on fine wines
RIP Bill Warre MW
Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog
Top Five Wine Trends to Watch in 2018 - fine writing on fine wines
The Supreme Power of Prestige
A listing of all the blogs monitored by our editors on a daily basis.
Email your comments to