Upvalley Fire Scenes

Sterling Vineyards, just south of Calistoga, is visible through a haze of smoke on Thursday morning. An evacuation order for the entire town of Calistoga remained in place.

The U.S. House on Jan. 16 passed legislation that would allow North Coast grape growers to tap emergency funding to compensate them for losses incurred because of smoke taint in 2018.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, offered an amendment to the overall legislation that would allow growers in Lake and Mendocino counties to be eligible for federal funding. Growers in those areas had their grapes rejected by wineries during last year’s harvest because of smoke damage to their crop from the Mendocino Complex fires in the summer.

“People who have survived devastating disasters, like the fires our district has endured over the last several years, deserve to know their government is fighting to help them recover,” Thompson said in a prepared statement.

According to a survey by the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County growers lost at least $37.1 million from smoke-tainted grapes from the 2018 crop. The 2017 crop was valued at $84 million before those grapes were turned into wine.

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