Wildfires Devastate Wineries, Including a Biodynamic Pioneer

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
wildfire approaches Gundlach Bundschu winery in Sonoma, California
Signorello Vineyards destroyed by fire in California. For tease only. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Frey Vineyards bills itself as "America's first organic and biodynamic winery." It's also one of the first wineries to confirm that its facilities have been destroyed by the wildfires currently ripping through the heart of California wine country.

Nathan Frey confirmed the news, Wine Spectator reported.

"Our winery has burned down, and most of the family homes, though our warehouse is intact," he said. "The homes of many friends and neighbors also burned, and our heart goes out to all of them."

An announcement on Frey's website doesn't mention the destruction specifically, but simply says, "due to the fire emergency, we are suspending orders for now." On the winery's Facebook page, another short message posted sometime Wednesday afternoon thanks everyone for their concern and confirms they are all safe. It also says updates will be posted on Facebook.

Frey's winery is located Mendocino County, where 21,000 acres had burned by Tuesday afternoon, according to SFGate. Redwood Valley, where Frey is located, was one of the first locations affected by the fire, burning Sunday night and early Monday and claiming three lives.

Other wineries in harm's way

William Hill Estate Winery sign
The William Hill Estate Winery sign is seen partially burnt in Napa. Pictures of the sign were widely shared in early — and incorrect — reports that the winery had been destroyed. (Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Some early reports of winery destruction turned out to be inaccurate, like the report that William Hill Estate Winery had been destroyed in Napa. A widely shared photo of a singed sign at the estate led to speculation that the entire winery had burned, but a spokesperson confirmed to SFGate that "winery buildings are intact and sustained only minor cosmetic damages."

In addition to Frey, a handful of wineries have confirmed by either a spokesperson or a statement on their Facebook page that they have been destroyed. (Many unconfirmed accounts are still being reported.) There are reports of others being destroyed, but I couldn't get confirmation from the wineries themselves. Keep in mind, these reports are about the structures themselves, not the vineyards. It's logical to think that any vineyards immediately surrounding the destroyed structures have also been destroyed, but many wineries have vineyards that are not on the same property as the wineries and perhaps not all of a vines have been affected.

Signorello Estate in Napa reported, "Unfortunately, the winery itself was destroyed in the Atlas Peak fire, which started around midnight Sunday night. Winemaker Pierre Birebent, the winemaking and vineyard teams were on property fighting fire that evening, but retreated when it overcame the building. All 25 employees are safe."

Paradise Ridge in Santa Rosa reported, "We are heartbroken to share the news that our winery was burned down this morning — we appreciate everyone's well wishes and will give you updates when we have them."

Staffers confirmed to SFGate that Napa's White Rock Vineyards in the Stag's Leap region "has suffered significant damage and is likely lost." The winery is one of Napa's oldest; it's been around since 1870.

Not all reports are in yet, and the fires have not been extinguished, so expect to hear about more wineries joining this unfortunate club.