Napa Valley’s Somerston Estate forgoes 2020 vintage due smoke damage from wildfires

(September 23, 2020; St. Helena, CA)—Craig Becker, co-founder, general manager and director of viticulture and winemaking of Somerston Estate announced today that his team will not harvest any fruit from the 2020 vintage due to smoke damage from Northern California’s Hennessey Fire. Located in Napa Valley’s eastern Vaca mountain range, the 1,682-acre estate consists of two historic valleys with 244 acres of vineyards. Nearly 1,400 acres of the estate burned in the fires. The estate is the sole fruit source for the Somerston Estate and Priest Ranch estate-bottled wines and focuses on high-quality viticulture. Somerston Estate is also a long-standing grower for 12 ultra-premium Napa Valley wineries. 

“At Somerston, we take pride in the grapes we grow, sell, and vinify. We make no compromises,” says Craig Becker. “We stand unwavering in our long-term commitment to this property, as well as to our winery partners, customers and distributors.” 

The Hennessy Fire began on Monday, August 17, when lightning struck in several places near the Somerston Estate. By Tuesday afternoon fires had reached the western ridge of the property, prompting a majority of Somerston’s staff to evacuate. CAL FIRE was unable to provide resources, so a small group of employees volunteered to stay and work with a privately hired fire crew to protect the winery and property structures. The estate suffered substantial vineyard infrastructure damage, yet all structures were saved. The extensive smoke negatively affected the grapes, prompting Becker to cancel the estate’s harvest and notify long-term buyers that the fruit from the 2020 vintage would not be available. 

“On a positive note, our team is safe and well, although still in a bit of shock. While the scrub pine, madrona, manzanita, bay trees, and other shrubs did burn, about 98% of the oak trees on our property did not,” says Craig. “We expect that the estate will regain its beauty with thriving oak woodlands and grasslands in a few years. We look forward to the 2021 growing season next year, producing high-quality grapes for our wines and those of our partners.”

About Somerston Estate
Somerston Estate is a 1,682-acre winery estate located in the eastern Vaca Mountains. Established in 2007 by three families, the 244 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards include 144 individual blocks, from which two distinct wine brands are produced. Somerston wines represent distinctive block designated wines, while Priest Ranch wines are a blend of fruit from multiple vineyard blocks throughout the estate. All Somerston Estate wines are produced from the estate vineyards, fermented and aged at the winery, and sold throughout the U.S. and export markets and at the Priest Ranch and at the Somerston tasting rooms. For more information on Somerston wines, visit For details on Priest Ranch wines, visit


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Sage Canyon Rd. St. Helena, CA 94574