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Wildfires in Northern CA Have Devastated America’s Prime Marijuana-Growing Region

The Atlas fire broken the Signorello Estate, winery the Silverado Trail in Napa on Monday, Oct 9, 2017.
Photo Credit: Twitter/Evan Sernoffsky

The wildfires distracted by Northern California’s booze country this week have killed at slightest 15 people and left dozens blank and thousands burned out of their homes. The fires have also put a poignant harm on the region’s namesake booze industry, as good as its up-and-coming country cousin, the weed business.

As of mid-week, some-more than 2,000 structures had left up in flames, including whole neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 about an hour north of San Francisco. Tens of thousands of people endured imperative evacuations as smoke filled the skies as distant south as San Jose.

Vineyards and wineries along the Silverado Trail in Napa County and the Highway 12 mezzanine between Santa Rosa and Sonoma in Sonoma County have been broken or damaged. Wine country towns like Kenwood and Glen Ellen have been tough hit. Major traveller hotels like the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country and the Fountaingrove Inn in Santa Rosa have burned. At slightest one Silverado Trail winery, Signorello Estates, appears to have been destroyed, while repairs reports are tentative on others. Similarly, Sonoma County wineries including Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood, Kunde and B.R. Cohn, were involved Tuesday.


“It looks like a bombing run,” winemaker Joe Nielsen told the San Francisco Chronicle as he noticed what was left of Donelan Family Wines. “Just chimneys and burnt-out cars and baked trees.”

The extinction will have an impact not only on tourism, but on the cost of some excellent reds. While 75% of the region’s grapes have already been picked, reward merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon crops are mostly still on the vines. The series of wineries burned or threatened could means shortages of these cherished grapes for years, given California produces about 85% of American wine, and Napa and Sonoma counties furnish the bulk of its reward wines.

The same Mediterranean meridian that creates the area so suitable for grape-growing creates it ideal for pot farming, too. Sonoma County’s estimated 3,000 to 9,000 pot growers have been hard-hit by the wildlifes as well. While repairs reports for the booze attention will take a while, pot people are already stating waste in the tens of millions of dollars.

The pot collect starts a bit after than the grape harvest, and when the fires reared up, many thousands of outside pot plants were still in the ground. Now some of those fields are little some-more than ash, including in adjacent Mendocino County, where the Redwood Valley fire is blazing up pot crops too.

This is moulding up to be the “worst year on record for California’s growers,” California Growers’ Association conduct Hezekiah Allen told SFGate Tuesday, adding that at slightest two-dozen members had lost their whole farms.

“This is going to leave a low scar,” he said. “I had one review currently where the family was in tears, saying, ‘We don’t know how we’re going to make it to January, let alone next planting season.’”

Sonoma County Growers Alliance chair Tawnie Logan reported poignant waste among her membership.

“We have a lot of people who have lost their farms in the last 36 hours, and their homes,” she said, citing a $2 million hothouse crop that went up in smoke Sunday night. “There’s no way for them to redeem the millions in expected income they just lost,” she said. “It’s gone. It’s ashes.”

The San Francisco hospital SPARC reported that while it had suffered “some flattering estimable damage” at its plantation in Glen Ellen, it was scheming Tuesday to try to deliver some of its crop. The Sonoma County Cannabis Company also was also hit hard, and operative frantically to equivocate a sum wipe-out.

“There are no difference right now to report the loss, the heartbreak and the mishap that the beloved home and village is going through,” the company posted to its Instagram account. “We are trying to save what we can.”

While the waste could put a hole in the county’s multimillion-dollar pot industry, consumers are doubtful to notice any impact. The state already grows so much pot that downward pressures are already gripping prices low, and even the waste incurred in this week’s fires aren’t going to shake the market.

But distinct the booze industry, pot growers are doubtful to be means to obtain insurance to reinstate lost crops and facilities. Those pot farmers who took waste are going to be feeling the pain for a good while. 

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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