Exclusive Images of Wine Warehouse Fire

Fire8copy_1The recent giant warehouse fire in Vallejo, California that destroyed upwards of $100 Million in wine will impact the CA wine industry for some time to come. Many a winery will be out of the market for a year or more while others will be unable to review their historical winemaking efforts due to the loss of significant "library collections."

Those wineries and brands that have been reported to have suffered a loss in the fire include:
Trey Sabore, Whitehall Lane, Thackery, Livingston-Moffett, Von
Strasser, Signorello, Frazier, Saintsbury, ZD, Justin Vineyards,
Domaine La Due, Lehrer Family Vineyard, Tamayo Family Vineyards, Long Meadow Ranch, Goldridge, Givich, Marilyn Wines, Welsh Stewart, Toasted Head, RH Phillips, Beaulieu Vineyards, Organic Wine Company, Sherwin Family, Realm.

The following pictures come exclusively to Fermentation from Bradley Gray, the wine columnist for the Sonoma Sun. Bradley was able to gain access to the facility along with inspectors and witnessed first hand the melted glass, the shattered cases of wine and what he describe to me as the "hurricane-like destruction" of the inside of the facility. Bradley’s story on his first-hand view of the inside of the facility can be found here.

Below are more photos of the inside of the Vallejo warehouse provided to Fermentation by Bradley Gray:

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Posted In: Wine News

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16 Responses

  1. Mike - November 1, 2005

    Tom
    I haven’t read Bradley Gray piece as yet, but I really can’t find any words suitable to describe what’s in those pictures.
    Mike

  2. Tom Wark - November 1, 2005

    Hi Mike.
    I thik the word you are looking for is “ugly”.

  3. Jathan - November 1, 2005

    What a terrible tragedy. Hopefully, whoever was responsible will be brought to justice swiftly. Great Pictures Tom.

  4. Catie - November 1, 2005

    Oh my! What a horrible loss for all of these wineries (but excellent photography).

  5. Mithrandir - November 1, 2005

    Hmm. Some of those unburnt stacks of cases look awfully large. I wonder if the inner bottles could have escaped the cooking? Perhaps not all is lost?

  6. Terry Hughes - November 1, 2005

    Mithrandir, I can’t imagine that anything would be drinkable, no matter how “unscathed” the bottles might appear.
    Really depressing. I ache for the winemakers. All that labor, not to mention the financial toll (especially on the smaller producers.)

  7. Bradley - November 1, 2005

    The sell-ability of these wines will be a hot issue in the future. For those that were uninsured, these wines WILL see the marketplace. For those that were insured, well….it looks like the marketing and PR staff might be canned because they might not have anythiong to do until the ’05 vintage is ready. Bad both ways. It looked like it got hotter than hell in there. I saw melted glass everywhere. Firefighters could’t enter because of the heat. Yet, I saw bottles that looked fine, and the corks hadn’t pushed at all. I was really surprised that the only thing in there that was really flamable was huge open containers of C&H sugar, and it wasn’t burnt. If you were a wine retailer, would you speculate on whether a particular wine was comprimised? As educated consumers, you guys will know what was in there. Would you buy it? I’d speculate, if the price were right.

  8. Bradley - November 1, 2005

    The sell-ability of these wines will be a hot issue in the future. For those that were uninsured, these wines WILL see the marketplace. For those that were insured, well….it looks like the marketing and PR staff might be canned because they might not have anythiong to do until the ’05 vintage is ready. Bad both ways. It looked like it got hotter than hell in there. I saw melted glass everywhere. Firefighters could’t enter because of the heat. Yet, I saw bottles that looked fine, and the corks hadn’t pushed at all. I was really surprised that the only thing in there that was really flamable was huge open containers of C&H sugar, and it wasn’t burnt. If you were a wine retailer, would you speculate on whether a particular wine was comprimised? As educated consumers, you guys will know what was in there. Would you buy it? I’d speculate, if the price were right.

  9. Bradley - November 1, 2005

    The sell-ability of these wines will be a hot issue in the future. For those that were uninsured, these wines WILL see the marketplace. For those that were insured, well….it looks like the marketing and PR staff might be canned because they might not have anythiong to do until the ’05 vintage is ready. Bad both ways. It looked like it got hotter than hell in there. I saw melted glass everywhere. Firefighters couldn’t enter because of the heat. Yet, I saw bottles that looked fine, and the corks hadn’t pushed at all. I was really surprised that the only thing in there that was really flamable was huge open containers of C&H sugar, and it wasn’t burnt. If you were a wine retailer, would you speculate on whether a particular wine was comprimised? As educated consumers, you guys will know what was in there. Would you buy it? I’d speculate, if the price were right.

  10. rama - November 2, 2005

    Could science help? I wonder if select bottles across a gradient could be chemically analized for changes that may have taken place due to excess heat. It sounds like the whole warehouse was too hot to enter, but stacks of liquid have a lot of thermal mass- the ones not near flame may not be as bad off? If science could prove that, there may be a market (although a somewhat diminished one) for these poor survivors…
    BTW, I guess all those cases stacked cork-side-up mean its a myth that wines need to be stored with the cork “wet”?

  11. huge - November 2, 2005

    Bradley:
    Slight correction, “for those that were INSURED the wines will be in the marketplace”! Think insurance companies won’t try to recoup some of their losses? It happened last time, and the affected wineries need to make sure that their wines are destroyed so they don’t end up having their reputation trashed in the marketplace.
    /Huge

  12. johng - November 6, 2005

    FWIW – there was some controversy years back when wines from the Larkmead fire trickled into the market. Stuff happens.

  13. Doug - September 22, 2006

    Here in SoCal, and just now learing about wines, I recently became aware of this tragic fire. I heard there was a confirmation that this was caused by arson. Have the authorities pointed the finger at anyone yet? It is shame at the losses the smaller vintners will suffer.
    To date has any of the heated stock found it’s way to the marketplace?

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  15. Matilda Nelson - May 31, 2012

    That’s a disastrous event every winemaker fears the most: A warehouse inferno. From what I see in the pictures, it may take millions of dollars to replace the lost wine products and repair the charred parts of the warehouse. I hope fellow winemakers would take seriously on fire safety and security so that their profit won’t be turned into ashes.

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