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HomeHarvestSchweiger Strong — Family and Future after the Glass Fire

Schweiger Strong — Family and Future after the Glass Fire

Dear Friends… 

We can’t thank you enough for all of your prayers and support over the past few weeks. The Glass Fire presented us with some truly unforeseen challenges. Despite the stress and fragility of the situation, everyone on our team rose to the occasion with composure, positivity, and determination. We’re always proud of our Schweiger Vineyards family, but the Glass Fire added another level of admiration and gratitude for our people. We want to give our account of the events that unfolded in order to fully express how thankful we are and to explain the current status and future of our vineyard, tasting room, and wine.

SAINT HELENA, CA – OCTOBER 01: Owner Fred Schweiger after working with firefighters all day at Schweiger Family Vineyards & Winery Spring Mountain Road in St. Helena, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. The Glass Fire first tore through the area early Monday morning, destroying several nearby wineries, and hot spots continue to burn. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

The first few days of the fire…  

Fred and Andy remained on the property. We have a retired fire engine up at the winery that we have maintained for over two decades. For hours on end, they patrolled the property, scoping and putting out spot fires, watching the sun set and rise, monitoring the wildfire in the distance, and hearing news from around the mountain about our neighbors and evacuees. Andy was able to post some video updates on YouTube and Facebook whenever he had cell service. He and Fred took turns napping in the fire engine cab when time permitted. Meanwhile, our Fall 2020 Wine Club shipment was underway — no pressure! Wendy, Michelle, Sally, and Paula, our hard working group of Schweiger women, were at “Schweiger South,” fulfilling orders, answering emails, and processing countless shipments for our wine club.

The real test came on Thursday, October 1st…

This was the day the Glass Fire arrived. We had been preparing for it, with Cal Fire setting controlled backfires on the perimeter of our property to safely burn whatever we could, before the real wildfire hit. We owe a massive debt of gratitude to the firefighters from Riverside, Cathedral City, and Hemet who fought with us side-by-side to save our vineyard and our winery — our home and livelihood. Fred and Andy were both firefighters back in the day, so we have a personal respect and understanding for the work these heroic men and women do. While a fair amount of forested area was burnt, all our buildings were saved. Some vines at the fringe of the vineyard may be damaged, but the vast majority will be producing healthy, beautiful fruit next year, just as they have for decades. We continue to feel upbeat and optimistic. We have no doubt that 2021 will be a GREAT year.

Many of you have inquired about smoke taint and the quality of the 2020 vintage…

Honestly, there is still a lot that we — as farmers, as an industry, and even amongst researchers at the world’s top universities — don’t know about smoke taint. One important and wonderful thing we do know is that smoke taint does not carry over year to year, and different grape varietals with different exposures all respond differently. After receiving analysis on markers that indicate the probability of smoke taint, we have made the tough decision to declassify our entire 2020 vintage — with one exception. A few years back, Fred and Andy started a new project. It came back with VERY clean test results, and we’re excited to proceed with making this wine. More on that special project will be announced when we’re ready to release the very first vintage from 2019. However, there will be no Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Dedication, or any of your other favorites from the 2020 vintage.

SAINT HELENA, CA – OCTOBER 01: Owner Fred Schweiger, left, and his son Andy thank firefighters helping with structure protection at Schweiger Family Vineyards & Winery on Spring Mountain Road in St. Helena, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. The Glass Fire first tore through the area early Monday morning, destroying several nearby wineries, and hot spots continue to burn. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

What this means for orders, shipments, and tastings moving forward…

We’re well positioned with our aging program to have no gap in inventory. When the 2019 vintage is sold out, we will move right into 2021. We may even crack the library door a bit wider than usual and make some limited and rare wines available at special pricing to Club Members for their shipments. 

We’re so happy to say that our tasting room has officially reopened! It’s amazing that despite some damage surrounding our buildings, when you’re sitting on our balcony, everything still looks gorgeous! We hope you’ll come see us soon for good company and great wine.

We’ve had so many kind people ask what they can do to help and support us. Quite simply, keep drinking our wines! Most of our inventory is stored off-site and orders are fulfilled and shipped within 24 hours. We’d be thrilled to send you some bottles to enjoy now, store in your cellar, or send to your friends and family.

From our annual Blessing of the Grapes, just a week before the fires.
Little did we know how much we needed those blessings!

Feeling special, lucky, fortunate…

We are so blessed to have such a great family of wine lovers in our club and as loyal customers. We are so lucky to have our home, our vineyard, our neighbors, each other, and to enjoy another beautiful autumn on Spring Mountain. While we’re disappointed about our 2020 vintage, we are so grateful to be able to turn this challenge into an opportunity for exploring other avenues of winemaking and special releases — you know Andy loves to experiment and get creative. Exciting things are coming, and as we said before, 2021 is going to be a good year. We can feel it.

Stay in touch, keep an eye out for some holiday happenings, book a tasting if you can, and tune in to our new “Repair-Rebuild-Resurrect Playlist!” — a collection of songs that was supposed to be Andy’s Harvest Soundtrack, but the Glass Fire had other ideas.

Give it a listen for some great oldies and a few laughs!

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