The last time Adawn Wood saw her home and winery was a week ago, in the rearview mirror of her open-air Jeep as she fled for her life. "Everybody was screaming and yelling," she said. Flames were racing down the mountains toward her property outside Middletown, California. "It started to sound like a freight train and a firestorm. Propane tanks were blowing up everywhere."
Wood has yet to go back. When she does return, she'll discover it's all gone: The house, the original Shed Horn Cellars Winery she started with her husband, Michael, and their library of award-winning wines, including a 2009 Petit Verdot. "Mike always said that was the best wine I ever made, and now it's all gone, so it's kind of heartbreaking."
Fortunately, most of Wood's wine was in storage in another town, which was out of the path of the destructive Valley Fire. That blaze, along with two others, continues to burn across Northern California. However, some residents in places such as Middletown are finally going home to assess the damage, insurance adjusters are fanning out, and vineyard owners are harvesting days late, with smoke in the air.