Larry Chasin, CEO, PAK Programs.
The events of recent years have severely tested the resilience of wineries. The wildfires that have been making headlines in wine country since 2017 were briefly interrupted by the outbreak of the COWID-19 pandemic, only to return – and with record-breaking ferocity.
Wine producers face a number of challenges related to the pandemic that began last March, as do businesses across the country. A year later, the company is still working to resolve the remaining issues. Fortunately, many wineries have found innovative solutions to some of the challenges posed by the pandemic – think virtual tastings and wine clubs. But just when wineries felt like they were in the midst of a pandemic, new waves of wildfires have dealt California wineries another devastating blow.
This article examines how wine producers have been affected by these difficult events and what they can do to limit future losses.
California 2020 SeasonCalifornia Wildfire
The 2020 California fire season was awesome: 4.2 million acres burned, the largest area since measurements began and more than in the previous three years combined. The state has experienced five of the six largest fires in its history. Under normal circumstances, wine producers would have struggled to survive such an active season; the current pandemic has exacerbated these problems.
As a vineyard insurer, we have seen firsthand the impact of the pandemic on forest firefighting. In recent years, we have responded to forest fires that have threatened our policyholders. We immediately flew out to give them practical support and present them with a cheque to start the recovery process.
During the pandemic, we had to change our approach and adapt. We’ve switched to using tools like Google Maps, and we now rely more on the information we used to gather from drone reviews. Of course, our priority has always been to stay in touch with policyholders and our other contacts in the field as we coordinated recovery efforts and provided the resources our clients needed.
A look at the loss
According to Reuters, the 2020 wildfire season could cost the insurance industry up to $13 billion. We have certainly seen several losses throughout the wine industry. After a fire, buildings, equipment, supplies and vehicles are often severely damaged and require extensive restoration due to fire damage. In addition to these losses, wineries can also suffer from costly outages due to infrastructure damage, causing electricity, internet, water, power, sewage treatment or all of these things to go down.
Consider the magnitude of the impact of the fire. Even for wineries not directly affected by the fires, road closures and evacuation zones are closing access to the wineries. Others were limited in their opportunities by fire, a pandemic or crop failure.
In the future, when the season of wildfires becomes an annual one, home and business owners will face new challenges in preparing for this danger. However, it is important that vineyard owners make an effort to understand the risks they face and take the time to mitigate those risks where possible.
Fortunately, tragic events have brought the issue of damage control to the forefront for many winery owners. In the past we have regularly sought advice and best practice from insurers and offered fire risk assessments. Today, our clients actively look to us for risk mitigation advice, as it seems that everyone knows someone who has been affected by a wildfire.
Grape growers can take several steps to prepare their farms for wildfires. One of the first steps in surveying a site is to assess the area that needs to be protected. Optimal use of space includes controlling vegetation around buildings and reducing fuels on the property to stop the fire before it reaches the buildings. One of the most important recommendations we give to winery owners is to make sure there is no unkempt vegetation around their buildings that could trap the fire as it approaches the property.
Another good practice we recommend is the use of remote sprinklers on the roof, which can be activated by phone. Similarly, it may be useful to have private firefighters under contract. During a fire, resources are limited and first responders are often overwhelmed with work. Therefore, if a winery can make an effort to mitigate the damage while the first responders are on the scene, this can go a long way to limiting or preventing the damage.
All winery owners must also have a documented fire safety plan. This plan should include a protocol for alarms, as well as detailed instructions for securing equipment, shutting off ventilation, and clearly marking infrastructure. Similarly, they must have a risk management plan. The risk management plan should include emergency generators, remote tank temperature monitoring, and communication plans for interaction with employees, customers, and suppliers.
Preparation of applications
Of course, even with the best plans to mitigate risk, there is always a chance of loss. Building owners must be willing to go through the claims process. We encourage vineyard owners to be proactive in keeping their records up to date. Keep detailed records of sales and wine clubs to determine the amount of revenue lost during the loss period in question. Also consider the additional costs insurers typically pay to mitigate damages, such as. For example, the cost of securing generators or transporting goods from hazardous to safer locations. If this information is properly maintained, insurers will be able to more easily assess claims and provide wineries with the necessary funds for recovery.
In addition, wine producers recommend working with a trusted insurance partner who understands the nuances of the winery and its many risks. You need someone you know and trust, given the severity of the impact of a fire on your business.
As the threat of wildfires continues to grow, winery owners must pay attention to risk mitigation. Given the recent record season and the many problems caused by the pandemic, vineyard owners should take the time to ensure they have detailed plans and appropriate risk mitigation methods in place to reduce the likelihood of significant losses. When the worst happens, they know they’ve done everything they can to get back to work as soon as possible.
Larry Chasin, CEO, PAK Programs
Larry Chasin is President and CEO of PAK Programs, which offers insurance programs for wineries, cellars, breweries, liquor stores, cideries, distilleries, importers and distributors of spirits and wine. He can be contacted at [email protected].
frequently asked questions
Which wineries were affected by the fires in California?
The vineyard-hotel affair…
How many vineyards were destroyed by the fires in California?
California wildfires have destroyed more than four million acres, including the Glass Fire, which burned more than 67,000 acres and caused damage and destruction to buildings at about 30 wineries in Northern California.
Is the glass fire still burning?
The Glass Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties has burned 65,580 acres and is 30% under control, CAL FIRE officials said. 4. October, 8 pm… : A week after the incident, the glass fire incident is still painful.
napa wildfires 2020,napa harvest 2020,glass fire wineries,napa wine news,tuck beckstoffer winery,napa valley smoke taint,Feedback,Privacy settings,How Search works,how will the california fires affect wine,napa wine 2020,pride mountain vineyards glass fire,hundred acre winery fire