With the release of a wine that I named SandFire Red we are celebrating the third anniversary of the Sand fire, which came very close to devastating our winery and our home in 2014.

On July 25, 2017, a day before my birthday, the pungent smell of smoke woke me up at 5:00 AM.  I rushed outside expecting the property to be engulfed with a fire like the one we had exactly three years ago, on my birthday.  But all I could see was a thick cloud of smoke.  Unlike the fire that started on July 25, 2014 raging a few feet away from our house, this time it was a few miles away on the south hills adjacent to Omo Ranch Road.

On July 26, 2014, I wrote in my diary:

“I refused to believe that the fire that started on Sand Ridge road and HW 49, 5 miles west of the winery, on Friday July 25, a day before my birthday, was going to affect us.  Friday morning we left the winery for a weekend of celebrations for my birthday.   We were hardly a day in the Bay Area when I started receiving text messages from my neighbor Mike that has a house straight west from our house.  At some point he texted me that with the help of “two giant bulldozers, 20 fire trucks and hundreds of firemen the fire was contained around his house and now moving towards ours.”   His next text message came as we were on our way to have dinner at the One Market Restaurant in San Francisco.  It said, “I can’t see your house, it is engulfed with flames that are 200 feet high.”   Needless to say that my birthday dinner was less than joyous.  By the time the dessert arrived his text message read, “We can still see the roof of your house behind the thick smoke.”

We could not wait until the next day.  We cancelled all the events that we had planned and went back to the winery to see the damage with our own eyes.  While both accesses to the winery from D’Agostini and Upton Road were blocked by police we were able to persuade them to allow us in.  When we arrived the fire had been contained about 30%.  We still observed about 100 helicopter sorties dumping water and chemicals on the surrounding areas of the house and the winery.  By this time there were about 190 fire trucks and in excess of 1000 fire fighters fighting this fire.

Bottom line: Except for about 20 acres of forest that burned down on the west side of the house, the house and winery were spared.  We had smoke damage inside the house with minor smoke damage in the winery.  Most of the vineyard blocks  were not touched by the fire.”

Our 2014 SandFire Red is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Touriga Nacional.  The Zinfandel vineyard, that provided the grapes for this wine, is located far away from the fire, while the Touriga and Syrah are in the close proximity.  I purposely emphasized the smoky flavor and aroma in this wine to make it fit for the occasion.  After all, it represents a fire that burned 4240 acres of land  in our immediate neighborhood.