Month: October 2017

California Wine Country Fires. Heroes.

Heroes.HEROES. We had to evacuate from the Tubbs Fire late Sunday night, October 8th, but we came home through the checkpoint each day. On Wednesday the 11th, we met CalFire Chief Kevin Ryan and mentioned to him that the Pocket Fire was spreading toward Alexander Valley (our evac locale) and that we were on notice for a second evacuation. Chief Ryan came with us to our place, assessed the risks and told us it would be ok for us to move back home. He told us our property was defensible, but also warned us that there was going to be a big fire show on Mount St. Helena in front of us that night as the winds were shifting. We quickly left and returned with our cats, then went down the road to find another CalFire team to let them know that we had officially moved back. We found CalFire Engine 4261 and these three heroes, Moua, Mike and Gabriel, who came down the driveway with us to see what they would be defending should the winds change direction sending fire or embers our way. They told us that their main concern was the wooded area along the creek and near the barn plus the fallen trees, limbs and branches that were down all around. They gave us advice about how to prepare and where to focus our clean-up efforts. We asked if we should sleep in shifts to keep an eye on the fires that were still raging on the hills surrounding us, but Moua encouraged us to get a good night’s sleep. He told us that it was their job to be watching over us and assured us that they would be doing just that. WOW. They left us with those comforting thoughts, and we got back to work. We couldn’t believe it when, 30 minutes later, these same three firefighters and incredible human beings rolled back down our driveway with extra chainsaws to help us chop up the fallen trees, limbs and branches so we could clear the debris away from the structures and make our home easier for them to defend. They stayed and worked with us -cutting and clearing- until the sun went down! Again, WOW. Heroes!


California Wine Country Fires. Evacuees.

Evacuees.EVACUEES. The Tubbs fire grew so quickly… Have you ever thought about what you’d take with you if you had to evacuate? We called family, friends and neighbors to make sure they were safe or on the road and packed up cats, computers, passports, wallets, phones…

Cats are not known to be expert travelers, but I must say that our furry evacuees were troopers in spite of being terrified by the winds and traumatized by the evacuation.

A special shout out to fellow fire evacuee and fabulous new friend Heather from The Toasted Stave whom we met along the way: Thank you for all the kindnesses and camaraderie!


California Wine Country Fires. Local Heroes.

Local Heroes.LOCAL HEROES. As we were evacuating on Sunday, 8 October, we reached the end of our driveway and wanted to turn left toward Healdsburg, but the trees in the road were too big for us to lift. We had to turn right toward the fire, moving other large trees out of the way as the wind continued to knock down branches and send them flying through the air. We circled back to the road behind us where we found a familiar face and beacon of hope: Augie Grube, a neighbor and one of our KV volunteer firefighters. Augie was out on the road, directing long lines of cars through a neighbor’s vineyard and back out onto the main highway. The windstorm continued relentlessly hurling debris while the firestorm raged on hills around us. The highway was littered with fallen trees and downed power lines with cables swinging. Bud Pochini (another neighbor and KV volunteer firefighter) along with a few others used chainsaws to cut a path through those fallen trees and downed power lines, creating a passable evacuation route toward Healdsburg.

Augie and Bud helped friends and neighbors evacuate to safety then returned to battle the firestorm and defend homes in our Knights Valley/Franz Valley communities. On Sunday night, while Augie and Bud were helping others, Augie’s family’s home burned. And on Monday morning as they continued to save neighbors’ homes, Bud’s family’s home burned. Their homes burned down while they were helping others. They risked so much and saved so many.
Our journey to safety was made possible by incredible neighbors, homegrown local heroes: Augie Grube and Bud Pochini. THANK YOU AUGIE and BUD.

A gofundme has been set up for each family. Let’s help our local heroes rebuild! Grube Pochini 


California Wine Country Fires. Evacuating.

Tubbs Fire. Evacuating.EVACUATING. On Sunday night, 8 October, a fierce and unrelenting windstorm tore through wine country knocking down trees, branches and power lines. Wind gusts of 65+ mph ripped off our roof tiles and sent them flying through the vineyard along with pool furniture, tree branches and debris. When our power went out at about 10pm, we decided to start packing up a few things… just in case. Soon after, the sky toward Calistoga lit up bright orange, and by 11:25pm we could see the flames licking up above the trees on the ridge behind us. At 11:59pm we made our way down our driveway through fallen and airborne detritus, looking back and wondering if we would ever see our home again.

Too close… but we were fortunate. We are ok. Grable Vineyards is ok. Our hearts go out to our friends and neighbors. So much has been lost by so many.


California Wine Country Fires. Evacuate.

Evacuate.EVACUATE. Sunday, 8 October. The Tubbs Fire started at 9:45pm near Calistoga, just three miles from us. Grable Vineyards is in Knights Valley, near the northern edge of the evacuation circle, just below Kellogg on the map. This was just the beginning of the Tubbs Fire.