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Lake County Wine Industry Status Update

Limited Impact of the Mendocino Complex Fire to the Wine Region

Kelseyville, California – August 16, 2018 – Since August 2, 2018, the active fire perimeter of the Mendocino Complex Fires shifted into remote forest wildlands around 15 to 30 miles north of Lake County vineyards. Additionally, as of Wednesday, August 8, 2018, thousands of residents were able to return to their homes as evacuation orders lifted for most Lake County towns. Lake County winegrape growers are glad to see people back in their homes and back to work, striving for normalcy on all accounts.

Smoke plumes from the Mendocino Complex Fires remain in remote northern wildland areas, far from major winegrowing regions. These smoke pockets are being carried east by prevailing winds, with morning haze blown out by midday breezes.

Damage to the wine industry remains very limited and extremely isolated, with around .05 percent of all planted acres of vines seeing burns. Vineyards provided firebreak due to the cultivation of the land and the moisture that is held in the vine canopy. Firefighters were able to utilize vineyard agricultural ponds and nearby lakes to supply water for their efforts.

“We at the Lake County Winegrape Commission worked closely with local officials to ensure real-time updates of the fire for the safety of our vineyard workers and properties,” said Debra Sommerfield, President of the Lake County Winegrape Commission. “Lake County grape growers are deeply grateful to all first responders for their tireless efforts to protect our residents and our communities, and we are thankful to be able to report that direct impact to our industry was minimal.”  

Throughout much of the West Coast, wildfire has become part of the ecosystem due to rugged mountainous topography, winds, and thousands of acres weakened by drought. With details from the 2017 U.S. Geological Survey, Paul Steblein, USGS fire science coordinator, stated: “human caused ignitions, warmer temperatures, dry and wet spells, and accumulation of fuels are some of the factors contributing to longer wildfire season, increases in the number of large and long-duration fires, and more severe effects from the wildfires.”

To help with fire relief efforts, donations may be made to North Coast Opportunities at https://www.ncoinc.org/ or Rotary 5130 Fire Relief Fund at https://www.larca5130.org/

About Lake County Winegrape Commission

Established in 1991, the Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC) has been instrumental in developing the Lake County region’s unwavering commitment to farming high-quality winegrapes. A state agency with oversight by the California Department of Food & Agriculture, LCWC represents approximately 180 winegrape growers farming approximately 9,500 acres of vineyards in Lake County and works on behalf of those growers in the areas of marketing, research, and education. More information can be found at https://www.lakecountywinegrape.org/.

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