Yesterday afternoon, as gentle wispy clouds zipped through the summer skies, a wild fire sparked in the northeastern wine region of Alt Emporda, located just along the French border and along Mediterranean Sea, followed by a second not 6 hours later.
According to the Minister of Catalunya, “Strong winds gusting up to 90km/h (55mph) have rendered one fire ‘out of control’.” All 135,000 residents in the country have been ordered to stay indoors and away from the licking flames. Approximately 13,000 hectares of woodlands have been claimed, as well as three lives.
Reports stated that approximately 80 firefighting crews from both Spain and France are working diligently to control the blaze, which is quickly advancing southwards towards the famed city of Figueres. 4,241 homes are currently left without power.
Our hearts go out to the people in Alt Emporda. We know a considerable number of wineries, and have many friends, who reside in the stunning seaside region, and can only imagine the devastation and fear that must be overwhelming them.
According to Ivo Pages, owner of Bodega Vinya Ivo, “It was impossible to go near the vines yesterday. I hope today we can see the result of the disaster. We did not need it or deserve it…but it’s life !”
Yes, he’s right, it is life, but natural disasters like these don’t make survival any easier, especially during a massive European financial crisis. Fortunately, winemakers – not to mention farmers in general – tend to be a scrappy lot, and will get through this as they have with frost, drought and any other natural catastrophe.
This is no better exemplified by the hundred plus forest fires that ravaged through the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia in August of 2006. Tens of thousands of hectares were destroyed, not to mention dozens of vineyards. The Spanish government has put these figures at well over 80,000 hectares. However, today, Galicia can boast of its native Albarino grape taking over the international wine market, and I trust Alt Emporda will bounce back with equal gusto.
We’ll keep you abreast as the fires subside and we have a better idea of how the vines survived.