California’s wine paradise burnt to ashes

The Silverado Trail, a small drive past the famous vineyards of Napa Valley in Northwest California, has long been a wine lover’s paradise. An Eden now largely reduced to ashes by a devastating fire.

The fire Glass consumed a 3-star restaurant, wineries like Chateau Boswell, and the smoke soiled the precious grapes.

At least a dozen wineries have burned down since the blaze, which ravaged more than 20,000 hectares, broke out this week.

The US West Coast is experiencing a record-breaking fire season, with five of the six largest fires in California state history currently active, and more than 1.6 million hectares covered.

On Wednesday, in the small town of Calistoga, the skeleton of an RV lay not far from a car whose paint had melted on the hood.

As smoke rose from the hills, firefighters attempted to put out bursting flames with pickaxes, shovels and water hoses.

The remaining wineries were closed as visitors missed out on evacuation orders in place for the entire area.

At the entrance to the Meadowood Resort, where chef Christopher Kostow earned the restaurant three Michelin stars, a security guard stands guard.

If other parts of the place were spared, the restaurant itself is razed. The flames also passed very close to Chief Kostow’s house.

“Losing your restaurant and your home is a double shock that no one could endure,” said Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning, who himself went to inquire about the condition of the evacuated chef’s home.

120,000 bottles

At Caligstoga Ranch, which offered guests access to a swimming pool, lake, and hiking trailheads, flames burst from gas pipes into the ruins of luxurious mobile homes.

“It wasn’t just any facility,” said Matt Macdonald, a firefighter from nearby Sonoma, as he gazed at the still steaming landscape.

Near the sign for valet service, the remains of a golf cart previously used to transport customers around the property were twisted in the heat of the flames.

“This is all very sad,” laments the Napa County Deputy Sheriff, his eyes lost in the surrounding vineyards. “The people who come here each have their own memories, often related to an area they love and have become dear to them. “

In Calistoga, known for its hot springs, mud baths, and wine tours, the manager of the winery at Castello di Amorosa braved the thick smoke to assess the damage.

The flames engulfed a stone farmhouse used to store some 120,000 bottles of wine, valued at around $ 5 million. Another 10 to 12 million will be needed to rebuild the building, according to owner Dario Sattui.

Calistoga, deserted by its 5,000 inhabitants, was surrounded by the blaze, but the vines, green and brushless, acted as a brake in the absence of strong winds.

A renowned destination since the end of the 19th century, it normally welcomes around one million visitors each year.

Tourism, already severely damaged by the pandemic, is now affected by fires.

“2020 is a bad year, I want it to end,” sighs the mayor. “We’ll get over it, but let’s make it all happen in 2020, so we can be quiet for the following years. “

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