Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cerro Prieto and the Red Moon.

All are aware that California is literally burning down. Just 4 days ago we had fires burning North, South, East, and NW of us. Granted none were nearer us than 4 miles, but the air here has been foul since the start of the Sobreanes fire up N of Big Sur, (and now moving closer to it). That fire is now entering his 5th or 6th week, can't remember. But even tho it was 90 miles north of us, with prevailing winds pushing the ash and smoke out over the ocean, it then goes south 120 miles or so, and then comes back up at us, from the SW. That fire alone has made the air here totally unsafe for asthmatics, COPDers, and so on.

Then 13 days ago, the areas around Lake Nacimiento ,especially the NE portion went up in flames, and now 2 weeks later, has gone from 750 acres and firemen from San Diego and Fresno in addition to ours....we now have 40,000 acres burned or burning, and 4000 firemen on the line. Four thousand....Oh, boy, this was not what anyone wanted. Many of you have read about the fire burning dangerously close to the treasured Hearst Castle, with flames easily seen from the Castle proper. Only a Herculean effort has kept the Castle from burning down.

Anyway, back to the Red Moon...the fire at and around Lake Nacimiento has come close to the Adelaide area of vines and wines. Still no damage to my knowledge, but 40,000 acres is a massive fire. Along with that, we got massive clouds of soot, smoke, ashes...and it has continued to date. Yesterday, Teresa and I were inside and suddenly we smelled smoke. We hurriedly checked all electrical appliances, then checked each room, every square inch of it. No fire we could find. Soon it became difficult to breathe and a glimpse outside showed visibility to the south no more than to our pool....twenty feet. And I mean clouds and masses of smoke. I thot maybe we had some of our forest on fire, but after calling Cal Fire Hotline, they said, no, that was just the Chimney fire near the the Sobreanes Fire, plus the fire that destroyed some medical complexes just near the several grass fires in Atascadero, Templeton, and Paso. I said we were surrounded by fires, but did not count the complete number. What was impressive tho, was that Teresa and I had to pack up Sombra, and head for the coast.  A quick phone call told us that the air was fine there.

Teresa has asthma so she notices bad air way before I do. The drive W on hiway 46 W was smoky the first 12 miles, but the last 5 got progressively clearer the further W we went. Talk about did we ever have them. Bright red orange sunsets, more red than not, and not the type we see around here. More impressive at nite, tho, was 3 nties back, when the moon, now full, came up very late, around 10 p.m. or so. A harvest moon if ever there was one. The color? Blood red. Really. No reason the moonrise can't do what the sunset does, but never have I seen it. Also, never have I been in such a thick massive smoke environment.

The accumulation of Sobreanes and Chimney fires (Chimney Rock Rd is the extension of 24th St going W out of Paso, and then Hiway G14 cuts off and goes N to the Lake. "Chimney" fire came from the junction of those two roads) the dozen of so other fires around us, have made living here uninhabitable at times during the days...sometimes all day. The Westerlies, or SWesterlies, have saved our bacon when they come up near sundown or sometimes sooner. But yesterday....our house filled with smoke, which I later realized was coming down our chimney. We skedaddled as noted above, and found Cayucos to be beautiful clear, clean, air. Just to get a lungful was refreshing.

Some winds came up, pretty substantial winds, and we headed home around 4ish. On the way back, when we came to Hiway 46, we were stunned to look NE and see the mountain tops on fire...and they are well south of Hearst Castle. So the Castle now has fires on 3 sides of it, but the firemen seem to have it protected. Those of you planning a trip up this way, certainly ought to check first as to conditions here, as most of the time, it has been unlivable. This a.m. Chimney fire is now at 40% containment, but also another 3500 acres burned last nite. I hadn't thot about it much, but one thing the 2016 harvest will not need is a lot of new French oak get that smokey taste. The grape's skins have to be coated with cinder flavor right now....Just kidding, but you get the implication.

As for Cerro Prieto vineyard, never have I seen it so beautiful...perhaps because I didn't have to do it myself. Anyway, it is a pleasure to view what we planted some 17 yrs ago. It is lovely beyond description, and even tho we have sold off 3/4 of our acreage of vines, still we get great pride and satisfaction from driving by and viewing them. Also Sombra loves to run amongst the vines.

No pictures this blog in that the red moon didn't turn out with the camera nor lens I used. And the smoke pics taken during the day just show nothing. Hence no photos. We are on tap to have a superb harvest, quality wise, and it should be in the 2.5-3.0 tons/acre. Have to say I miss it, but yet at the same time, when I could no longer do any of the work myself, it actually isn't so bad. Same goes for winemaking. I do miss selling the wine and meeting new people, however, as we have met and made new friends with so many interesting and "interested" the wine club, for example.

Speaking of that, we have only a very few cases of wine left and those are the 2012 Paso Bordo(Cab/Syrah), and the 2013 Merlot(with a touch of Syrah in it). I am way behind getting back to folks re: orders, so I will just add that anyone who wishes the last cases of Cerro Prieto wines, to send me an email or call. Both wines are currently being consumed by wine club members, but for my taste, I prefer to not drink these until the 5th or 6th yr. There are 3 cases of the 2012 Paso Bordo and 6 of the 2013 Merlot we have remaining to sell. (Had to keep some for ourselves).

That is it from here, where once again I am sure we will see the "Red Moon" late this evening,  but sure will be happy when it is gone forever. Once was enough..."once in a red moon"... Trust me, as striking as it just means this beautiful place is darn close to unlivable. And that is something I never thot I would see or say.

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