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'Will Be Harder To Make Money': Caldor Fire Impacts This Year's Grape Harvest

SOMERSET (CBS13) — The Caldor Fire caused some major problems for this year's grape harvest that could trickle down to wine lovers.

Michael Scully took us for a walk in his Fair Play vineyard at Gold Mountain Winery and Lodge, lamenting the losses he will incur in 2021 due to the fire.

"Three-fourths of grapes were affected and yields down 30-50%," he said.

Scully says the wildfire brought smoke-filled skies to the area for weeks.

"So maybe it has something to do with the quality of sunlight coming through, some tainted by the smoke from where we went from not ripe to 'Oh my God, they are drying out,' " he said.

Finding crews was also an issue.

'All of a sudden everybody needed to pick at the same time, and there was a shortage of folks to come out and pick and small crews. So it took us longer to pick," Scully said.

Ben Parrett processes all those grapes for about a dozen vineyards in the area.

"The fruit gets dropped off and we weigh it and process it through a Destemmer, and it goes into tanks and ferments from anywhere from 7-14 days," Parrett said.

It's then put into a press and squeezed to make wine. Interestingly enough, even though there are fewer grapes, the quality is better.

Scully is banking what's in the barrel will buoy him against two bad years. Few braved coronavirus restrictions to visit wineries in 2020, forcing prices higher.

"Over the last 10 years, what was once $26 a bottle is now $48 a bottle," Scully said.

He is hoping the long-term impact may leave a sour taste for some wine lovers. It's a passion he's poured his heart into.

"It will be harder to make money. We will see what happens," he said.

Scully says some of his grapes also tested positive for smoke taint, which turned some buyers away.

He feels fortunate to have been able to market them for other uses.

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