Castello di Amorosa president Georg Salzner walked along the Glass Fire-scarred property on Tuesday and said the winery could reopen when the evacuation order is lifted.
The Glass Fire reduced one of the property’s imposing buildings to a gutted, fortress-like shell. Still, the adjacent medieval Tuscan castle-like winery looked untouched, with sheep wandering on green grass near its stone walls.
“There’s not one scratch on the main building,” Salzner said.
That mixed outcome seemed like a microcosm of the upper Napa Valley as a whole. The Glass Fire blackened the landscape and torched buildings in some areas while sparing wineries, vineyards, homes and oaks in others.
Taking a grand tour of upper Napa Valley isn’t so magical amid the Glass Fire’s smoky shroud. A drive up Silverado Trail, through Calistoga and down Highway 29 on Tuesday morning showed wine country as wildfire country.
The fire still burned. Smoke and occasional flames visible along the main roads were reminders, as well as convoys of fire engines. Most of the action seemed to be in the surrounding hills, not in the valley.
Meadowood resort still had many of its lodges on oak-sprinkled hills. But the building that housed the resort’s three-Michelin-star restaurant and conference center had been so destroyed that it was impossible to imagine what it had once looked like. Firefighters tackled hot spots on the property.
Further up Silverado Trail, a small house had been destroyed, a plastic, orange, smiling Halloween pumpkin remaining on the front steps. Not everything in wine country is imposing.
Most structures at Davis Estates winery remained, including the windmill in front of the winery. But at least one structure had been destroyed and an array of solar panels along a vineyard had been melted like so much cheap plastic.
Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning stood in a parking lot on the main street of his evacuated city. The fire hadn’t entered city limits, but was less than a quarter-mile away, he said.
The Tubbs fire of 2017 was big, scary and fast. Proximity for this one is the disturbing part, he said. Still, he noted the lack of wind.
“We’re feeling pretty good right now,” he said.
Calistoga looked like a hazy ghost town. Canning described the air quality as being “beyond unhealthy.”
Heading south on Highway 29, the smoke grew even thicker. Flames lapped along a roadside hill. A line of fire trucks drove out of the brown haze ahead.
All of this was near the entrance to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, one of the area’s popular camping and hiking areas where redwoods line Ritchey Creek. Parts of the park visible from road hadn’t burned.
Further south, the 36-foot wooden water wheel of the historic Bale Grist mill could be seen. Major wineries such as Freemark Abbey and Beringer remained.
Some of the major damage inflicted by the fire is away from Silverado Trail and Highway 29. The fire destroyed homes in Deer Park area and wreaked havoc at Calistoga Ranch resort.
Despite the fire damage, upper Napa Valley as of Tuesday was far from a Mordor-like setting. Acres of vineyards still spread across valley floor like a garden, their beauty tempered by the smoke of a still raging wildfire.
The 42,560-acre Glass Fire had zero containment at that time. The fiery siege of upper Napa Valley, though on this particular morning not appearing to be chaotic, had yet to end.
You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.