California Wine Country Becomes Fire Country as Vineyards Weather Devastation

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Charred hillsides show the path of the Kincade Fire, which burned in October 2019, adjacent to vineyards near Healdsburg. (Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Charred hillsides show the path of the Kincade Fire, which burned in October 2019, adjacent to vineyards near Healdsburg. (Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

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The things that set California apart, for better or worse, were all there last Sunday afternoon: terrifying flames, wine country glamour and a rescue straight out of Hollywood. Captured via smartphone. Of course.

As John Viszlay and Dominic Foppoli watched, horrified, the Kincade fire crested the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains and headed straight for their adjoining vineyards. Winds gusted. Smoke swirled. At any moment, they realized, everything they’d worked for would be lost.

“We came within a couple hundred yards of the fire hitting and destroying our winery,” said Foppoli, who is also the mayor of nearby Windsor. It would have been a disaster, “if it wasn’t for a perfectly timed Hollywood scene, where the skies parted and a 747 supertanker … shows up out of the sky and blasts the fire.”

A bright pink plume of skillfully placed fire retardant saved Christopher Creek Winery, which was founded in 1972 and acquired by Foppoli’s family 40 years later. It spared Viszlay Vineyards, which has been operated by its eponymous owner and his son for the past decade. Beyond that, good news is in short supply.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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