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

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

The Road Ahead for Northern California’s Wine Industry

Oct 25, 2017

Disasters Fires United States California Napa 2017 California Fires 2017 News

You Might Also Like

The Tavern by WS Joins an All-Star Dining Lineup at New York’s Hudson Yards

The Tavern by WS Joins an All-Star Dining Lineup at New York’s Hudson Yards

The restaurant, affiliated with Wine Spectator , opened Nov. 13

Nov 13, 2019
Moderate Wine Consumption Linked to Lower Risk of Lung Disease

Moderate Wine Consumption Linked to Lower Risk of Lung Disease

A new study suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may significantly lower the risk of …

Nov 13, 2019
Wineries Fight to Keep Tax Cuts

Wineries Fight to Keep Tax Cuts

Excise tax credits passed in 2017 are set to expire at the end of this year. Can they be …

Nov 8, 2019
When Disaster Strikes, Sonoma Endures

When Disaster Strikes, Sonoma Endures

Through fires, floods and droughts, Northern California's work ethic serves it well

Nov 7, 2019
Sonoma Wine Country Regains Its Footing

Sonoma Wine Country Regains Its Footing

With the Kincade fire contained, wineries and restaurants reopen their doors to returning …

Nov 7, 2019
Union Square Cafe Announces New Executive Chef

Union Square Cafe Announces New Executive Chef

Lena Ciardullo is the restaurant’s fourth chef in 34 years. Plus, Alfred Portale opens …

Nov 7, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search