(Jana Katsuyama/KTVU) - Throughout Napa Valley, winemakers are taking stock of the damage from the wildfires which lingered in the hills above Robert Mondavi Winery and Inglenook Niebaum-Coppola winery.
Napa Valley Vintners Board Chairman Michael Honig says some of their members still haven't been able to visit their properties in the evacuation zones and assess the situation.
"We have 539 members, to date, we've heard from 275 of the members and of those members we've heard from 30 have had some type of damage. Now, that could range from sign burning to total devastation," said Honig, who has his own winery and vineyard in Rutherford that escaped any fire damage.
"Over the course of the entire day we made excellent progress on all the fires in Napa County," said Chris Anthony, a Cal Fire Division Chief, "What we're trying to do is protect the vineyards and the structures along the valley floor."
Napa County Sheriff's deputies reopened Redwood Road and Partrick Road Tuesday for the first time since the fire. Mount Veeder road.is still closed to the public, but a KTVU crew went as far as the Hess Collection WInery.
Fire crews from Arizona rested in the parking lot of the Hess Winery. They'd been mopping up hotspots all day and nearby wisps of smoke still floated in the air.
The Hess Collectioin winery, art gallery and vineyard was saved, but still off limits to the public.
Off-site at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia on First Street Tuesday, the Hess winery staff helped a pop-up tasting, with proceeds to be donated to the Napa Community Foundation.
They say a strike team battled the fire right to the edge of the vineyards
"Five engines, 29 guys and they drove a four-wheel truck right up there and they just pushed it back," said Philip Hansell, Hess Collection Winery's Direct to Consumer Director.
"We still have grapes on the vine and we have our brave winemaking crew trying to get up there and get access to them." Hansell said.
Concern is easing too about the possibility of smoke taint damaging this year's wines. Honig says 90% of the grapes in Napa Valley had been harvested before the fire, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grapes which have thin skins and are more vulnerable to smoke taint.
"Then what's left is Cabernet which has a thicker skin and really isn't as susceptible to smoke taint late in the year," Honig said.
For those wineries that were damaged, there could be another silver lining. Wine from previous vintages already bottled are typically stored at other locations.
Once the wine has been bottled, it goes to another location because it's easier for the trucks to pick up.at one central location," said Honig, "So although a winery might have been devastated and lost their whole crop or much of their crop in 2017, they probably have a '14-15-16 vintage that are already bottled and not impacted at all by this fire."
"We're trying to look at it as glass half full, not half empty," said Hansell.
On Sunday, a group of Napa Valley winemakers have pledged to donate 100% of their wine-tasting fees to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. Those wineries are Alpha Omega, Cakebread Cellars, Frog’s Leap, Honig, JCB, Miner Family Winery, Raymond, Round pond Estate, and St. Supery.
Also, some winemakers have started a fund at www.rebuildwinecountry.org to help rebuild homes in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties. So far they have raised $40,000 in donations and will send all of the money to Habitat for Humanity to help with those efforts.
Lewis Perdue, executive editor of Wine Industry Insight, compiled a working list of wineries damaged and those not affected. On Monday, the list showed at least eight wineries that he confirmed were destroyed but 50 others, such as Stag's Leap, Silverado Vineyards, St. Francis and the Staglin Family Vineyard, which only received minor damage or weren't affected at all. KTVU did additional reporting and added to the list. The confirmed wineries that were damaged are:
- Paras Vineyards
- Signorello Estate
- Paradise Ridge
- Pulido-Walker Estate
- Sky Vineyards
- Backbone Vineyard & Winery
- White Rock Vineyards
- Frey Vineyards
- Sill Family Vineyards lost winery building and guest house, but vineyards are in "fabulous shape," according to Igor Sill
- Pulido-Walker Estate entirely destroyed
- Estate Vineyard suffered partial damage to its 15 acres
KTVU intern MarianeDavison contributed to this report.