Local winemaker worries about the impact of the wildfires on colleagues in Northern California

Oct 11, 2017

The wildfires that are ravaging parts of Northern California are also impacting the large wine industry in that region. News of that devastation is on the mind of a Finger Lakes winemaker.

August Deimel
Credit Keuka Spring Vineyards

August Deimel says it’s a relatively small world in the wine industry. A lot of people involved in winemaking know each other. Deimel is the head winemaker at Keuka Spring Vineyards in Penn Yan, and he did his early training in that business in Northern California, so watching the coverage of the wildfires is particularly disturbing to him.

“To have spent time in these places and to know people who work there and to know the businesses there affected, and to see all of this is very strange and a little, makes you a little sick to your stomach,” Deimel told WXXI News.

Deimel says it's a relatively small industry, and a lot of the winemakers know each other.

“What you learn, very quickly once you’ve been in this business for a few years, is you know somebody in almost every wine region; it’s very normal to have a lot of connections between these places, because there aren’t many people who make wine for a living, and so we all kind of wind up knowing each other,” Deimel said.

Michael Kaiser is Vice President of Wine America, an industry organization, and he says it’s really too early to say just what the impact of the wildfires will be on U.S. winemaking, but it could affect sales of those products.

“Retailers and restaurants…need to be stocked, and if a winery or distributor can’t provide a wine that’s already been on a store shelf, they’re going to look elsewhere.”

Constellation Brands, the large wine, spirits and beer producer headquartered in the Rochester area, is also still working to assess any damage to its California facilities. Right now, Constellation says, they are focusing on the well-being of their employees in the affected region.