Jessup Cellars escapes fires unscathed

By Jodi Schwan

Jessup Cellars has reopened, and its owners are counting their blessings after recent California wildfires failed to harm the business.

“Our hearts go out to those who just lost so much more,” said Dr. Vance Thompson, owner of Vance Thompson Vision and a co-owner of the California winery.

“Electricity is just now being restored. Recovery efforts are Herculean. It’s amazing what they’re going through.”

The wines at Jessup Cellars and sister winery Handwritten are all fine, Thompson said.

“Our storage facility in Sonoma County where the wines are sold was fine, our production facility on the south edge of Napa came through untouched. Our tasting room in Yountville was untouched, and there were so many fires around it,” he continued.

“As far as our vineyards, it’s amazing how these vineyards almost acted like firebreaks and stopped the marching of the fires in certain ways.”

About 80 percent of the grape crop had been picked before the fires started, he said.

“And what’s left is Cabernet, which has the thickest skin, so smoke taint is less likely with a thick-skinned grape, versus Pinot Noir which has real thin skin. I’m just so glad because it’s such a delicate grape that it was already in before the fire.”

Rain has helped clear the air in recent days, Thompson added.

“One of the great things people can do is realize it’s safe out there now, and the best thing to do is keep your trips scheduled if you’re scheduled to come out,” he said. “It’s been a very difficult thing in both Napa Valley and Sonoma County. There’s been life lost and so many people that lost their homes and businesses.”

His staff, which returned to work midweek last week, has felt the support of customers from South Dakota, Thompson said.

“I can’t even tell you how many thousands of people reached out with prayers and well-wishes and concern. It always amazes my team out there … how people back in South Dakota really support their own. This has been a perfect example of that.”

The team at Jessup Cellars celebrates reopening.

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Jessup Cellars escapes fires unscathed

Jessup Cellars has reopened and its owners are counting their blessings after recent California wildfires failed to harm the business.

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