The Wine World Mourns

fireI don’t feel much like writing about wine  today. As fierce wildfires ravage California’s prime wine regions there seems little to celebrate. Many have lost homes and livelihoods, and there has been some loss of life. I don’t wish to diminish the import of their suffering in also lamenting the loss of several wineries and irreplaceable vineyards. This will be a devastating vintage.  Even in the vineyards that survive, with only half the crop harvested, the grapes remaining on the vine will shrivel in the heat, acid levels will plummet, and smoke taint will be impossible to eradicate.

A friend of mine, who makes wine and lives in Santa Rosa, had this to say in response to my inquiry about his safety:

We have our rich people problems in spades, but this is not Puerto Rico.  Those folks really deserve our attention.  We’ll be fine.

He is of course correct. There are places in the world that suffer devastation and lack the resources to quickly bounce back. Napa and Sonoma are not among them; they will recover.

But today feels like a day of mourning tinged with hope that firefighters can get the fires under control.

3 comments

  1. I’m one of your colleagues. My mother almost waited too long to get out of her home in Calistoga before my brother drove through police lines to get her. My cousins, who have a farm just off of Tubbs Lane, spent 20 grueling hours trying to keep their house from being turned to ash with expending all the water they use to irrigate their crops. They risked their lives. In the end, they had to evacuate. They don’t know if their home is still there or not. They don’t know if their vines, some of which have yet to be harvested, survived. This is their livelihood. For them, this is more than a first world problem. Yours is the fallacy of taking the anecdotal and making it a universal.

    Your first instincts were right. Don’t write about wine today.

    1. Geoff,

      I’m sorry to hear of your family’s struggles and I hope their home and vineyards survive. But I’m not sure what you mean by “fallacy”. I thought it was clear from the context that loss of life and livelihood is not just a first-world problem. That is why mourning is appropriate. My friend whose livelihood and home are also threatened by the fires was making the point that as profound as the suffering is in California, there are people who are worse off and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. That does not seem fallacious to me. At any rate, I’m sorry if the intent of my remarks was not clear.

      1. Dwight, the problem comes from the assumption that your friend’s stoicism is one shared by all–or more accurately, should be shared by all. Comparing disasters is odious, in this particular case to other recent disasters. This is a disaster for everybody. I understand you were trying to sound hopeful. You did not; the comments came across as ill-timedly and inappropriately philosophical.

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