Breweries, Employees Impacted by California Wine Country Wildfires
Northern California residents are comparing frightening scenes in their communities to Armageddon after more than a dozen wildfires spread with lightning-fast speed across several counties, including Sonoma and Napa. The California Wine Country fires have forced more than 20,000 people to evacuate their homes, and brewery employees are among those impacted.
“It has been a very long and horrific day here in Santa Rosa,” Russian River Brewing wrote on its Facebook page overnight Monday. “Most of our employees were accounted for this morning, although many had been evacuated. Entire neighborhoods, two hotels, many restaurants, a high school, Kmart, Kohl’s and more are all gone.”
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Founders Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo tell CraftBeer.com they are safe but “definitely frazzled.” Some of the brewery family has lost their homes.
Ten miles to the north in Windsor, Amy Levin, CEO of St. Florian’s Brewery, is keeping a positive attitude, even as her husband and brewery COO Aron is serving on the front lines as Windsor Fire Captain. The couple started the brewery in 2013 and named it in honor of Saint Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, donating 5 percent of brewery profits to fire-related and community-based organizations.
Amy tells CraftBeer.com via email that they have limited communications, but their family is safe, and the brewery is out of the fire’s path.
“Many friends, brewery guests, colleagues and first responder family lost everything (many who are working the fire & especially to whom I raise my glass). Our hearts ache for them and their families,” she writes on Facebook. “As always, our mission is to support our community and we will be coordinating efforts effective immediately. Let’s drink to the hero in all of us!”
The region is not out of danger yet. Fires are still burning and the wind is sending smoke as far away as San Francisco. Many area breweries, including Third Street, Sonoma Springs Brewing and Cooperage Brewing, closed Monday; they’ll take it day by day depending on weather and evacuation notices. As of 11 a.m. local time Tuesday, Russian River had reopened the Santa Rosa pub.
We’ll continue to update this story as we hear how area breweries have been impacted, along with information on how you can help.
— Kurtis Alexander (@kurtisalexander) October 9, 2017