Growers and Vineyards Affected by the 2017 Wildfires

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Our law firm currently represents wine growers and vineyards against PG&E for losses sustained due to wildfires. We have tremendous experience navigating tort claims (like business losses from wildfires) through bankruptcies. The PG&E bankruptcy is moving quickly and if you don’t act by October 21, 2019, right after harvest, you will lose any chance for compensation.

While the media has exaggerated the nature of wine damage caused by the 2017 wildfires, we know that when the fires began on October 8 and October 9, 2017, most of the grapes in Napa and Sonoma had already been picked. For the most part, the only grapes left on the vine were Cabernet grapes. Even as to Cabernet varietals, the majority of Cabernet grapes were nowhere near the fire zones and unaffected by smoke taint. So, who was impacted?

Maybe your grapes initially tested normal but now are testing smoked out. Maybe wineries obligated to buy your grapes won’t buy them, or will only buy them at a reduced rate for fear of smoke damage. Maybe your grapes were already picked at the time of the October 2017 wildfires but you couldn’t crush them in time, or fermentation was affected by the fires. If any of the above apply to you, you may be entitled to compensation from PG&E. Even if you had crop insurance you may still be entitled to compensation. Typically crop insurance only covers a portion of your loss. You are entitled to a full recovery.

You may have other kinds of losses that you did not even think of. For example, under California law you are entitled to receive money damages for trees that were damaged or destroyed on your property as a result of the wildfires. We have access to the top arborists who can evaluate your property and help support a claim for your trees. In many cases these losses can be substantial.

While businesses like yours would typically have the luxury of a wait-and-see-approach, the bankruptcy of PG&E changes everything. Growers who have not filed a proof of claim by October 21, 2019, will be left without any compensation regardless of whether or not the loss was just realized, or possibly even if loss will not be realized until the future. Call us today!

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