Wineries in Amador County feel their grapes might be in jeopardy after the Sand Fire inched closer to their vineyards.
Andy Friedlander’s winery, Andis Wines, was just six miles from the huge plumes of smoke on Saturday. On a normal weekend, they expect more than 200 people at the Tasting Room. But because of the fire, only a handful of people visited during the noon hour.
“Especially with the Amador County Fair in town, we expected a crush of people up here,” Ruthie McRonald, Manager of the Andis Wines Tasting Room said.
Friedlander is one of the lucky ones. Other wineries have already lost parts of their vineyards. He said he would be checking his grape leaves for falling ash.
“The ash from the fire could affect the taste of the grapes, during Veraison,” Freidlander said.
Veraison is the critical period in which wine grapes change in color and flavor.
“Many years ago in Napa it happened, and years later, you can taste that smokiness in the wines, so we don’t know what will happen,” Freidlander said.
Other tasting rooms like Turley Wine Cellars across the street, decided to close their doors, at least for the day because of the bad air quality. They were concerned for their customers’ and employees’ health.
They hope the fire simmers down, so they can get back to business as usual.
“There are already homes that have been lost, vineyards are going to be lost, and that is devastating to all of Amador and El Dorado County,” Freidlander said. “We can’t afford that. Nobody can afford it. We’re challenged by Mother Nature every day.”