The scene at Hagafen Cellars today, where land, vegetation and equipment were burned in the fires raging throughout Wine Country this week. (Photo/Courtesy Hagafen Cellars)
The scene at Hagafen Cellars today, where land, vegetation and equipment were burned in the fires raging throughout Wine Country this week. (Photo/Courtesy Hagafen Cellars)

Napa kosher winery Hagafen Cellars damaged by wildfires

Hagafen Cellars, the North Bay’s only kosher winery, has sustained damage from the Atlas Peak fire still raging along the southern part of the Silverado Trail in Napa County.

According to an email sent out by owner/winemaker Ernie Weir, everyone at the winery is safe. The main winery building on Silverado Trail and the tasting room “appear to be fine,” although vegetation surrounding it was burned. The home Weir shares with his wife Irit has not been damaged, although the couple was evacuated on Sunday night.

“That’s the good news,” he wrote. “The bad news is that the back of the winery, the crush pad, is partially burned and we cannot fully assess the condition of the equipment until the power returns.

“Sadly, everything along the back fence is completely burned. All of our agricultural equipment is destroyed. Our chicken house is burned. Our guesthouse is totally burned. All of the trees are burned. About 1 acre of the Cabernet Sauvignon adjacent vineyard is burned.”

According to Weir’s email, much of this year’s wine is safely inside the main building, resting in barrels. “What this all will mean for vintage 2017 is yet to be determined,” he continued. He says he is “reasonably certain” that the winery will be able to recover from the destruction “and continue” in business. The winery was founded in 1979.

Vintners throughout Napa and Sonoma counties are bracing to find out the full impact these devastating wildfires will have on the wine industry that drives the local economy, both through the wine itself, which is sold all over the world, and the tourism it brings to the region.

Nearly all of the hundreds of wineries in the region were forced to close Monday. Some of them have burned to the ground, including Signorello Estate in Napa and Paradise Ridge in Santa Rosa. Some historic vineyards, with old vines dating back to the 19th century, may have been singed beyond repair.

When the smoke clears, industry leaders fear the area will suffer a severe shortage of grapes for years to come. New vineyards may have to be planted, and it takes three to five years before they will bear fruit. Combined with the wine inventory lost in burned storage facilities, the San Francisco Chronicle reported today, it could be decades before the industry recovers.

Sue Fishkoff

Sue Fishkoff is the editor of J. She can be reached at sue@jweekly.com.