No Escape

The 2017 Napa and Sonoma Harvest Inferno has spared no one
No Escape
Sonoma residents survey the damage in Santa Rosa. (Peter Thoshinsky/ZUMA Wire)
Oct 11, 2017

In the middle of the night, the wind howled. Smoke filled the air.

By dawn, the gales had slowed; the air had cooled. For a moment, the clouds of smoke could be mistaken for fog. Until you breathed.

There's no escape from the eerie scent of smoke.

You shower but still reek of it.

You look to the sky, a surreal, hazy burnt-orange glow.

You look at the ground, dusted with ash.

The signs of the fire are everywhere.

Everyone has the same look of shock and disbelief. It happened that fast.

Entire neighborhoods have vanished, replaced by charred rubble, blackened tree trunks and lone-standing chimneys—a surreal scene out of a post-apocalyptic horror film.

At every gas station, lines of cars wait their turns at the pumps. Bottled water, transistor radios and pollution masks are at a premium. Grocery stores look as if they've been looted, shelves empty.

Despite the devastation and confusion, however, communities are rallying. Their fighting spirit is back.

But the reality of the 2017 Harvest Inferno is slowly sinking in.

Most of this year's grape crop had already been harvested by the time the fire began Sunday night, but not all of it. There's still some prized Cabernet Sauvignon hanging in Napa and beyond.

That matters less today as people scramble to reconstruct their lives. It will matter more in the coming weeks and months, as wine is the lifeline in these parts, the economic engine that drives Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties.

Smoke taint may be the final blow struck by the inferno. For yet-to-be-harvested Cabernet vineyards, hope isn't lost yet. But the threat is lurking, and the longer the grapes hang on the vine, and the longer the smoke hangs in the air, the greater the threat.

For now, the fire is on center stage, filling the skies with smoke that chokes the lungs and burns the eyes. But the blaze won't escape California's bravest, who are saving lives and battling it on every front.

More California Fires 2017

See More

California Wineries Sue Insurers over Smoke-Tainted Wines

Jan 17, 2020

Wine-Country Wildfire Recovery Benefit Raises Over $3.4 Million

Dec 4, 2017

California Fires: Upcoming Charity Benefits and Happenings

Nov 14, 2017

Star Chefs Rally to Benefit California Wildfire Relief Efforts

Nov 14, 2017

Understanding Smoke Taint

Nov 3, 2017

Disasters Fires United States California Napa 2017 California Fires 2017 News

You Might Also Like

U.S. Authorities Deport Wine Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan

U.S. Authorities Deport Wine Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the man known as Dr. Conti was flown to …

Apr 13, 2021
Red Wine Consumption Linked to Lower Risk of Cataracts

Red Wine Consumption Linked to Lower Risk of Cataracts

A new study finds that low to moderate alcohol intake may help prevent age-related eye …

Apr 13, 2021
Home Wine Deliveries Keep on Truckin'

Home Wine Deliveries Keep on Truckin'

Wineries got savvy to online marketing in 2020 during the pandemic. But will that last in …

May 31, 2021
A Tuscan Winery Vacation with Sting? Southern Glazer's and Wine Spectator Raise $1.6 Million for Pandemic-Impacted Restaurant Workers in Blockbuster Auction

A Tuscan Winery Vacation with Sting? Southern Glazer's and Wine Spectator Raise $1.6 Million for Pandemic-Impacted Restaurant Workers in Blockbuster Auction

With the help of Zachy's, Guy Fieri, Dave Portnoy and a star-studded lineup of vintners, …

Apr 9, 2021
Bill Harlan Appoints His Son, Will, as Managing Director of Harlan Estate

Bill Harlan Appoints His Son, Will, as Managing Director of Harlan Estate

After 40 years at the helm of one of Napa’s premier Cabernet estates, Harlan will step away …

Apr 9, 2021
Severe April Frost Damages Budding Vines in France

Severe April Frost Damages Budding Vines in France

In Burgundy, Chardonnay losses are more severe than Pinot Noir, with Chablis hit particular…

Apr 8, 2021