How An Important Central Coast Vineyard Fought Off The Alamo Fire

Two of the current wildfire season's biggest blazes, the Alamo and Whittier fires, have ravaged tens of thousands of acres in California's Central Coast region, in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, respectively. And the Alamo fire, after a day burning out of control, turned abruptly south toward the Santa Maria Valley, threatening one of the oldest and most venerated vineyards in the state, Bien Nacido Vineyard, as well as its famous tenants, Au Bon Climat and Qupé wineries. Both were spared, but a vineyard adjacent to them, North Canyon, wasn't as lucky.

Bien Nacido's benches and hillsides are planted with more than 800 acres of vine grapes and contain orchards, pastureland and a number of outbuildings as well. Since 1989, it's also been the home to a sprawling corrugated winery facility housing Qupé and Au Bon Climat, on the north end of the property.

Qupé's Bob Lindquist heard about the fire on Thursday, soon after it was reported near Twitchell Reservoir. He was away from the winery and called Chris Hammell, who heads up all of Bien Nacido's ranch operations. They discussed the threat and got in touch with the Miller family — Stephen, and his two sons, Marshall and Nicholas. The family has owned this ranch since 1969, and it has had grapevines in the ground since 1973.

On Friday afternoon, the fire line descended into a steep canyon loaded with fresh fuel and erupted: A huge plume of gray-white smoke shot high into the sky, visible for miles. The fire ballooned in size and intensity, until it was no longer predictable or containable. That's when Lindquist said he had to evacuate.

Continue reading the story in the Los Angeles Times.