EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – Among the many businesses in El Dorado County that have been affected by the Caldor Fire are the county’s wineries.
On a normal day, Paul Bush’s family-owned vineyard sees many guests who go to enjoy a glass of their red and white wines and gaze upon 82 acres of vineyards.
“Most of the tables here would have wine tasters at them as we do wine flights all outdoors,” Bush said. “As you can tell, not quite so many people right now.”
Bush has made the tough but necessary decision to temporarily close his winery, Madrona Vineyards, to the public.
“We wanted to make sure that we weren’t on the roads in conflict with people that did have a mandatory evacuation,” Bush said.
Kara Sather, executive director of the El Dorado Winery Association, said this wildfire comes at a particularly bad time for their 45 established and newer wineries.
“A majority of our wineries are either evacuated or on an evacuated warning or out of respect for what’s going on, have chosen to remain closed,” Sather said. “You start a new business, you get hit with COVID, you can’t be open, you can’t serve. And now having the influence of the fires have certainly had an impact as well.”
Bush’s vineyard had been there since the 1970s, but there are others in El Dorado County that have only been there a few short months. Those businesses have had to evacuate completely.
Now, despite the uncertainty of what they will return to, there are a number of reasons why they have not lost faith yet.
“I’m hopeful that this going to be a really good year,” Bush said.
Despite the risk of a delayed harvest season for surrounding vineyards and smoke taint, Bush said he feels they are ready for whatever comes their way.
“We will do testing on the grapes and all those types of things to make sure that we adjust our protocols in the winemaking,” Bush said.
The outpouring of community support is helping them navigate through the unknown.
“The number of people that are contacting us just asking if there’s anything that they can do to help, that’s what’s wonderful about El Dorado County as a whole. That sense of community just really comes out,” Bush said.
Bush says Madrona Vineyards will open after the evacuation warnings are lifted and the smoke has dissipated. That way his workers can do their jobs safely and guests can enjoy themselves comfortably.