"48 Hours" reports Napa no stranger to tragedy

As California's wine country begins to rebuild after wildfires tore through it last fall, this week "48 Hours" investigates the unlikely showdown at a vineyard that gripped the region three years ago

Last Updated Jan 7, 2018 12:45 AM EST

The old adage that reporters and news folks go wherever the story takes you is true. Every once in a while though a story will "demand" that you go somewhere like California wine country … a situation that makes you pinch yourself and wonder just how you managed to be so fortunate.

The lush vineyards of Napa, the rolling hills of Calistoga, harvest time in Yountville… what's not to love? And when the story is a toxic tale of ambition, deception and $800,000 stuffed in a gym bag, well, it's hard not to be hooked.

It was with this excitement that my colleagues and I ventured out to wine country in the summer and early fall of 2017 to shoot this week's "48 Hours" --  a fascinating story of two businessmen named Robert Dahl and Emad Tawfilis, both of whom were chasing their dreams of making a fortune in the wine business when their paths crossed. It wasn't long before those dreams took a dark and tragic turn ending in murder.

"48 Hours" originally intended to air this story in October, until a tragedy of another kind struck Napa and Sonoma Valleys. I remember turning my television on the morning of October 9th, only to be floored by the images of devastation I saw as a result of wildfires raging in wine country.

The next day I watched as Lew Perdue, a wine industry writer we had interviewed for our own story, appeared on "CBS This Morning" to talk about the destruction and toll the wildfires were taking on Sonoma and Napa counties. My colleagues -- some of whom lived in wine country themselves -- and I watched in shock at the scenes of devastation. It soon became clear that to air this story so soon after the people who live there saw their entire lives and livelihoods turned upside down wouldn't be right.

Three months have now passed. Happily, signs of revitalization in the region are starting to appear. The rebuilding has started, and the hills around Napa are starting to turn green. Like so many other areas impacted by wildfires in California last year, the area's full recovery still has a long way to go. 

Our story, "Grapes of Wrath" -- a tale of wine, money, treachery and deceit that sent shock waves of a different kind throughout wine country, aired Saturday on CBS.