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Glass Fire sets California's wine country ablaze

California fires devastate wine country
California fires devastate wine country 02:24

As the raging Glass Fire continues to burn across Northern California, local vineyard owners are assessing the extent of the damage to their grapes and their wineries. More than a dozen operations in Napa Valley have already been either partially or completely destroyed, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Schatzi Throckmorton, manager of the Behrens Family Winery, located in the mountains above the town of St. Helena, said the fire seriously damaged the family-owned vineyard and winery. 

"It pretty much incinerated our primary winery building and one of our barrel storages and a small residence we have on the property," she told CBS MoneyWatch.

The Glass Fire has burned over 66 square miles, destroyed or damaged more than 100 structures and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people in Napa and Sonoma counties, including the entire towns of Calistoga and Angwin. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Shasta counties on Monday.

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The Behrens Family Winery in California's Napa Valley lost the equivalent of 900 bottles of wine in the fire.  Les Behrens and Lisa Drinkward

Throckmorton believes the property's small vineyard, located in front of the winery, helped serve as a firebreak and helped protect the rest of the property, including a new tasting room that emerged unscathed. As for the vineyard itself, however, "It's pretty torched," she said. 

The winery lost three full tanks — about 900 bottles of wine — from this year's harvest. Its Bordeaux wines cost between $60 and $200 a bottle. All the wine housed in barrels has completely evaporated, Throckmorton said.

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All that's left of the barrel storage facility at the Behrens Family Winery.  Les Behrens and Lisa Drinkward

Behrens is already reeling from a tough year business-wise given that COVID-19 has depressed sales. "We're quite reliant on direct sales, and between COVID and this it's been a rough year for us," Throckmorton said. 

The famed Chateau Boswell, a family-owned winery in St. Helena, in Napa Valley, was also destroyed by the fast-moving fire. Jacquelynn Prevost, the Chateau's ambassador at large, described the losses as "catastrophic." 

"Nothing remains except a single portion of our 11,000 square-foot cave. It is utter devastation," she told CBS MoneyWatch. 

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