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With mother nature, life always follows death…

In my previous blog, you saw images of the terrible firestorm and resulting destruction in Sonoma.

In “Sonoma Firestorm – Part 2” we visit a fire-damaged vineyard near Kenwood springing back to life just one month later. And meet in the Sonoma town square to thank first responders.

But first, a reminder of where we came from just one month ago…

The continuing personal impact on some is hard to measure. These photos are from the Warm Springs Road area, close to many of my client vineyards…

Many vineyards were either spared from from the fire, or actually blocked the fires from advancing – by cutting off the fuel supply. However, some vineyards did burn, and here we see a vineyard a few days after being burned during the firestorm. Note that all of the ground cover and much of the leaf canopy is either burned or charred.

And the first few feet of vine trunk is quite scorched…

This fire also destroyed all of the drip irrigation system, including riser pipes, hoses, and drip emitters, leaving dripping plastic residue on the ground in its wake…

And destroyed every drip emitter…

And some very large trees burned and fell into the vineyard, including this epic California Bay Laurel…

We enlisted the help of the several agencies to help us assess the damage. The Sonoma Resource Conservation District helped us develop an erosion control recovery plan. Below, Project Manager Justin Bidell and Resource Planner Anya Starovoytov walk the damaged site collecting data, taking pictures, and advising on recovery plans and funding sources…

Justin and Anya point out that the fire even chased into plastic drainage culverts, burning underneath several access roads…

And looking at this close-up image of a charred grapevine trunk, you might think that this vineyard would be lost and need to be replanted…

But dig down to check the condition of the vine roots and we find in most cases no damage at all…

Amazingly, just one month later, we find everything is roaring back to life!…

And rain brings welcome moisture and renewed growth…

And the cover crop in between the vine rows explodes back to life, and the grapevines respond accordingly, soaking up moisture, swelling buds, and going into dormancy…

And the return of power at the winery allows us to get back to work. In this photo, wine that had been resting in stainless tanks has been moved into oak barrels where it will rest in the caves for the winter…

And one month later, although many friends are homeless, or know someone who lost a home, the vineyards and wineries and the town of Sonoma are bouncing back to life. And we can still find small things for which we can all be grateful…

The town of Sonoma celebrated on Saturday night, November 19th, with a Sonoma Town Hall holiday lighting ceremony, awards and standing ovations to the first responders, great music, and this wonderful tribute from Amy Miller, Artistic Director of Transcendence Theatre Company:

Video: Sonoma Square and Amy Miller from Transcendance Theatrer

Other links on this topic:

Ways to support those who need help

Did vineyards help save wine country?

A look at 22 wineries that sustained damage

Search and Rescue teams news

Tourists encouraged to come back!

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