Oregon winemakers sympathize with California colleagues: 'We know how hard it is'
JUNCTION CITY, Ore. - Danuta Pfeiffer is no stranger to the threat of a wildfire.
"Our spray tanks are always filled with water," said Pfeiffer, of Pfeiffer Winery. "So if we're not spraying out in the vineyard, those spray tanks are there just in case there's a spark, and we are ready."
She said winemakers understand the challenges and fears of their colleagues in the California wine country as deadly wildfires rage out of control.
"We certainly are sympathetic, because we know how hard it is to make this beautiful wine," she said. "There are going to be some problems for winemakers, certainly in California with the smoke taint."
Pfeiffer and her husband experienced their own close call in 2016 thanks to the High Pass Fire.
"It was creeping over the hill, trees were exploding, you could see the fire line," Pfeiffer said.
Now the Northern California wildfires are burning up the Sonoma Valley's world famous wine business.
"What could catch on fire is the winery, where the barrels are, and the winemaking equipment," she said.
Even if a winery escapes destruction, the "smoke taint" will be concern for winemakers.
"The grapes are going to absorb all that smoke, and it's going to affect the vintage if the grapes are still hanging," she said.
That's not just an issue right now for California.
Pfeiffer said Oregon winemakers in areas impacted by this past summer's wildfires have smoke taint on their minds.
"There's been a lot of concern about smoke," she said.
Despite the glamorous image, Pfeiffer said the wine industry is tough work.
"To see all that go up in flames in a day is really heartbreaking," she said. "It'll take a lot to bring it back."