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Rombauer is Safe

Here are Napa Valley wineries not yet damaged in the Glass Fire despite rumors

CALISTOGA — As the Glass Fire ravaged much of Napa Valley this week, rumors flew that well-loved Chardonnay purveyor Rombauer Vineyards was burning — but the 40-year-old winery escaped harm despite its close proximity to wineries that did experience significant damage. It’s one of several wineries in the area that were rumored to be damaged but are safe. Failla Wines, Schramsberg Vineyards, Mending Wall Winery and Davis Estates are all also OK.

Rombauer sits right across the Silverado Trail from Chateau Boswell and Hunnicutt Wines, both of which experienced significant damage late Sunday and early Monday. Chateau Boswell’s main building was destroyed, and Hunnicutt’s offices and crushpad were also burned.

The hillsides surrounding the winery and tasting room were charred and ashy, and smoke could be seen smoldering from the ground in a few spots. But the property’s structures were untouched.

On Tuesday morning, Rombauer winemaker Richie Allen was on the outdoor crushpad performing pump overs on tanks of fermenting wines. “It’s been exhausting,” he said of the previous two days.

On Sunday night, multiple fire trucks had been stationed at Rombauer, combating the blaze as it approached the winery. They’d depleted most of Rombauer’s water tank, according to winemaker Richie Allen, which meant he was currently operating the winery with no access to water — a major challenge during harvest. The crews left late Sunday night when they learned that Chateau Boswell was ablaze.

But the crews returned early Monday morning, Richie said, when the Rombauer hillside ignited again. Crews stood outside the buildings with water hoses, dousing the flames as they approached, he said, and they hosed down the solar panels on the winery roof to make sure they were clear of flammable debris.

Although some of the vintage’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot will likely be lost to smoke taint, Allen said that this year’s Zinfandel, which comes from the Sierra foothills, is tasting great, and — assuaging the fears of Rombauer Chardonnay fans — all of the 2020 Chardonnay was picked well before the fires, and is not at risk of any damage, he said.

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