Updated at 06.30 11 July The ABC/Qupé winery and Bien Nacido vines were spared – just. See this picture and the thanks to the firefighters posted on Au Bon Climat's Facebook page.
Updated at 17.45 10 July The Alamo fire north of ABC/Qupé on Bien Nacido Vineyard has grown and is now the largest currently in California – 24,000 acres – although it is now 15% contained, apparently. Cambria and Byron (owned by Jackson family) are just a few miles east of Bien Nacido and were evacuated. The fire is currently half a mile from ABC/Qupé. The fire's location is largely remote but right on the edge of wine country.
09.00 UK time Fire season has started in California. Heatwaves this last week are encouraging ultra-fast-spreading fires in Santa Barbara County. The region has two burning simultaneously.
The Alamo fire is in the most remote hills in the northern part of the county but, that said, it is burning right into the edge of Santa Maria Valley. As I write (on the evening of 9 July) the fire is visible from the winery shared by Au Bon Climat and Qupé [where I had a memorable lunch not too long ago – JR], and also right to the edge of the Byron vineyards about a mile east of them. See this account.
The Whittier fire has been harder-hitting, escalating to thousands of acres in only a matter of hours, closing the main highway that runs from the city of Santa Barbara over the hill into the county itself, and forcing hundreds of evacuations. The most dramatic evacuation story is that of a children's summer camp with counsellors having to rush to get all the kids together and out as the fire approached, as outlined in this report.
There are also some serious wildfires up in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. By some miracle (crazy flooding rains this winter, surely) northern California is still fire-free.