Oregon's wine country community feels for California

Oregon's wine country feels for California

CARLTON, Ore. -- Matt Wengel works 14-hour days during his busiest time of year.

The harvest is coming in all around the Willamette Valley’s wine country. He's the winemaker at Lemelson Vineyards, near Carlton, in charge of the 2017 vintage.

But even that can't block out thoughts of California’s fires.

“My girlfriend who lives in Napa. Can’t make calls to her, can’t – our anniversary was yesterday. Can’t get through to her. She can text. She’s safe. She hasn’t been evacuated,” he said.

Winemakers are a tight-knit community with similar hopes, challenges and pressures.

As the pinot noir grapes come off the vines at the Patricia Green Cellars -- she thinks about the vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties.

“My heart goes out to those people. And especially you know, when, you’ve finished harvest and then this happens. And it’s not just the harvest – it’s like a lot of people’s life work,” Green said.

Anthony King feels the connection, too. He worked in the business for seven years in Sonoma County before moving to Carlton's Wine Maker's Studio.

“I think everyone’s still trying to figure out like, do they have a home. Cause you can’t get in to certain areas to see,” said King.

It’s too soon to know the impact on the vineyards -- but he and many others fear some have burned.

“It’s sad you know when you have hundred-year-old vines that get lost and there’s just a lot of history to those,” he added.

Back at Lemelson Vineyards, the work goes on, and so do the questions about what escaped and what's been destroyed by the firestorms in California.

“Historic wineries, stag’s leap winery, where I worked, possibly destroyed. It’s devastating. I can only imagine. My heart and prayers go out to all those people,” said Wengel.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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