Under normal circumstances, October is a time of good stress in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley, as frenzied vintners lead their cellar teams in crush-and-host harvest celebrations for wine clubs and the tourists pouring into wine country.

That’s the troubling part, that fire season is the new normal for Northern California’s wine industry. The Kincade Fire, which started on Oct. 23 near Geyserville and sparked the largest evacuation in Sonoma County history, marks the third consecutive season of massive, destructive wildfires in wine country.

So far, one winery has been decimated — Healdsburg’s historic Soda Rock Winery — by the Kincade conflagration, with four others sustaining damage and other wineries still at risk.

Only the stone facade of Soda Rock’s 1869 structure and a steel sculpture of a boar — Lord Snort, a Burning Man artwork — remained of Ken and Diane Wilson’s winery.

“We’ve seen the news. We are devastated,” the winery posted on Facebook before dawn on Oct. 27. Nearly 200 condolences poured in from as far away as New York’s wine country.

Last year’s Mendocino Complex Fire was the largest in California history, burning more than 450,000 acres in four counties, including Mendocino and Lake counties. And 2017’s Atlas and Tubbs fires, which ravaged 23 wineries in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, continues to haunt vintners. Even after rebuilding — or quietly dumping a smoke-tainted vintage — they can feel a wildfire’s impact for years to come.

The Kincade Fire has burned more than 75,000 acres, according to Cal Fire, and damaged numerous properties, including the Field Stone Vineyard estate and winery located on Highway 128. The property, which is owned by the Jackson family, sustained damage to its barn and winery. It is home to some of the oldest petite sirah vines in the county.

“While the vineyards were threatened by the surrounding fires, we are hopeful that there was no long-term damage,” said Kristen Reitzell, vice president of public relations for Jackson Family Wines. Reitzell would not comment on damages at the Jackson Family estate, but the Press Democrat reports Jackson Family Wines’ scion Julia Jackson’s home and numerous buildings on the estate, including the Redwood House, a focal point for entertaining, were gone.

Other vintners, like Medlock Ames, were more fortunate.

“Last night the Kincade fire swept quickly through our vineyards at Bell Mountain Ranch and touched almost 75 percent of our property. With the amazing efforts of the first responders, none of the buildings, including our winery, barns and offices, burned,” operators wrote on Facebook. “A few vines out of our 55 acres were singed. Our wines were safe in our winery and the remaining 30 tons, which we harvested quickly, were brought to our friends at Saintsbury Winery in Carneros as soon as the evacuation order was given.”

At this time, the situation remains fluid for the 30-plus wineries and 82 growers in the Alexander Valley. As firefighters work to control a blaze that is only 15 percent contained and spreading east, vintners and winery owners are unable to check on their properties.

In parts of western Sonoma County, however, evacuation orders were downgraded from “mandatory” to “advisory” on Tuesday — sending some vintners home, including the Hafner family of Hafner Vineyard, who reported their return to the winery on Facebook.

“So, some life may be going back to normal, or so we hope… This fire came incredibly close for us, and we aren’t out of the woods yet,” they wrote. “But to be on the receiving end of the support and generosity from neighbors is an extraordinarily humbling experience.”

Another red-flag warning with high winds starts today and will be in effect through Wednesday. At press time, here are the wineries that have sustained damage or been confirmed as safe.

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