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Under Fire Again #CaliforniaWildFires

November 10, 2018

Fire seen from my house in midtown Ventura; 6pm Fri. Nov. 9, 2018.

Less than a year after the Thomas Fire, Ventura County is under fire once again, under siege from the Hill Fire near Camarillo and the much larger Woolsey Fire which started near the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks where 12 people were killed at a College Night by a man who also killed himself a few hours before on Weds. Nov. 7, 2018. Read more about Thousand Oaks in this personal essay here by Suzanne Roberts.

In addition to evacuation of people and pets, exotic animals are on the run also: Malibu Wines desperately needed help today evacuating their giraffes that are part of the wild animal safari jeep safari they offer among the vines.

I imagine the zebras and other animals from the Malibu Wines Safari fit fine in the horse trailers but how do you move a giraffe — especially when the LA Zoo was also having to evacuate their animals because of a fire in the hills above Griffith Park.

The fire began on Thurs. Nov 8 in the drought strikes hillsides of eastern Ventura County and whipped up by extremely high winds and heat as well as exceptionally low humidity of 3% as reported by PG&E’s John Lindsey.

Many first responders had been out most of the night at the Borderline Grill — and then as they were escorting the body of a fallen officer from Thousand Oaks to a Ventura Funeral Home on Thursday, their services were required at the scene of the Hill Fire in Camarillo, just a few miles away from me, and then at the Woolsey Fire a bit further toward Thousand Oaks.

When I stepped outside from Ventura College where I teach around 730pm on Thursday night, I felt like I was being blasted by a body sized blow dryer set on high — high heat and high volume.

While I couldn’t smell the smoke or see the glow of the blaze, we all knew the fire was only a dozen or so miles away, and with the intense wind, would advance quickly. Which it did — at one point gobbling 80 football fields within minutes.

As a College teacher who lived near the Thomas Fire last December which burned hundreds of homes, many belonging to friends, these latest events are very distressing.

What makes matters even more challenging and personal for me is that I am the host for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend where we are focusing on wineries from fire ravaged regions around the world– which means I’ve spent much of this week researching and learning about the fires in 2017-2018 that struck wine country in Chile, Spain, Portugal and California counties including Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties.

After 24 hours or so of relentless winds, the night around here is calm — for now — but the wind is expected to pick up again. Unless the wind dies down, there’s no containing the fire. Image below is from about 6pm Fri. Nov. 9, 2018.

With these conditions, all events and visits at Malibu Wines as well as other wineries in the AVA are cancelled and closed plus three Ventura County food and wine gatherings have been postponed: Friday’s Taste of Conejo (Thousand Oaks is known as the Conejo Valley), Saturday’s Ventura County Star’s Food and Wine event in Camarillo and Food Forward’s event  Sunday at the Santa Paula Agriculture Museum.

The Ventura Wine Company and Cave plans to hold their annual holiday kick-off Wine Tasting event on Sunday Nov. 11. The biggest and best event they host each year features over 100 of their favorites wines, along with light appetizers, live music, and more. Tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase in store or online: If they decide to cancel, they will let attendees know by 10am on Saturday morning. Last December they had to reschedule their December sparkling wine tasting event because of the Thomas Fire.

While it may be challenging to get to the Cave or to events further south because of major road closures, it is possible to go north to the 8th Annual Garagiste Wine Festival which has been named the US’ “Best Wine Festival” in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers Choice Awards.

How can you help? What can you do? The World Kitchen has been activated in two locations in California– one in response to the nearby Woolsey Fire

and one up north by the Chico fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, home to several friends.


Be safe. Take care of each other.

And if you want to learn more about wines from the world’s fire ravaged areas, join or twitter chat at 8am Pacific 11/10/18 by following #WinePW or check out this post on wine Predator which has links to our articles.

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