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California wildfires could impact Michigan's wine industry

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One of Mike Moyer’s students is an intern at a winery in Napa Valley this fall. She was evacuated and didn’t get hurt in the recent deadly fires that swept the region. But like many others, she’s just returning to work today.

Moyer is the director of the viticulture program at Lake Michigan College in Southwest Michigan. He said it’s too early to tell the impact the fires will have on the wine industry in California, Michigan and across the country.

He speculated one of the biggest impacts may be in the bulk wine market. A lot of wine is produced in California, then buyers across the country bottle it or mix it with other varieties and sell it under their own label.

“A Michigan producer who did happen to purchase bulk wine from the west coast would feel an increase in prices or maybe even not have any wine available.”

Moyer said another impact could be in support industries. “Obviously, if say a glass supplier or a cork supplier or a barrel supplier, if their business was impacted then that would also put a squeeze, potentially, on those supplies for other wineries in the United States.”

Moyer said one thing to be thankful for is California’s early harvest. Grapes are unlikely to have been damaged by smoke.

“I think one of the biggest impacts is going to be on workers,” Moyer sayd. “If your winery’s been burned down then you’re not going to have a place to work, and you’re not going to have a job and the economy in Napa and Sonoma is highly dependent on wine production so that’s going to be a significant impact on that area.”

Moyer said they’ll know more about the impact on the industry as more people can return home, and to their wineries and vineyards.