Apple Hill residents rally to help local businesses

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EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) -- With the beautiful weather outside, visitors are flocking from far and wide to Apple Hill this weekend. Business owners say these crowds are desperately needed to make up for lost profits during power shutoffs.

A packed parking lot is a perfect problem to have for Jerry Visnan the owner of Apple Hill’s High Hill Ranch.

“This is not bad. I wish it was busier," said Visnan.

After several weekends dealing with Power shutoffs from PG&E, Visnan said it’s business desperately needed.

“Well, I bought generators," said Visnan. "But people don’t know we have generators so they’re not going to drive two hours up here if they don’t know we have power. That’s been a financial impact too. People just won’t take the chance of driving up.”

Visnan said he lost tens of thousands of dollars in revenue during their busiest season. This is why local neighbors made a special effort Saturday to pour their cash in to help.

“I really like to give my business to local people. I’ve always felt that way. But now it’s even more important. I want these businesses to stay here," neighbor Marilyn Magelitz said.

But the dollars lost aren’t easily made up at Crystal Basin Cellars where the power outages interrupted wine production.

“The harvest is really late this year," said Crystal Basin Cellars owner Mike Owen. "And because of that, five weeks late, all the grapes are coming in at the same time and the power started to shut off at the same time."

The winemakers had to wait to crush and stem the grapes for several days.

“And the grapes that had already been in fermentation, we couldn’t press them. So that means they have a chance to spoil from too much oxygen," said Owen.

He tried to keep the grapes cool until the power came back on but he won’t know whether the wine turns out alright for quite some time.

“You can bake a batch of cookies and know in an hour if it’s good. We won’t know for two or three years,” said Owen.

All they can do now is try to make up for lost time and revenue and hope the grapes are the only thing crushed, not their business.

“Please no more. Keep the power on, make it a first-world country,” said Owen.

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