Firefighters raced to the Larson Family Winery, a small producer in the Carneros region of Sonoma, on the evening of March 2, as a fire raged through the barn that serves as the winery's tasting room. They were able to save adjacent structures, including the winery. The majority of the winery's inventory was also spared, but the tasting room's interior was gutted and the building will be demolished. No injuries were sustained, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
"911 was called at 8:55 p.m., and firefighters were there by 9 p.m.," said Erica Larson, the winery's general manager. "Six stations in total came to respond." Original documents, photos and memorabilia from the property's days hosting the Sonoma Rodeo were lost in the blaze, but Larson praised the quick response for saving their production facility and homes on the property that date to 1865.
The Larson property was once a training site for 1930s champion thoroughbred Seabiscuit; a member of the Larson family trained the racehorse during a six-week visit. And the homes housed captains of what was once a nearby river port on Sonoma Creek, hauling passengers and freight from San Francisco.
The winery was founded in 1978, and its first commercial vintage was released in 1989. The small production is sold entirely direct-to-consumer. The family also sells grapes to wineries including Rombauer, Artesa and ZD.
"Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and support from our community. It has given us tremendous inspiration and hope," said Larson. The winery is still operating and the family plans to reopen for tastings with a temporary structure after demolishing the tasting room.
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