Missouri vintners heartbroken over fires in Napa Valley

AUGUSTA, MO - One Missouri wine maker said the wildfires out west will touch wineries here in a number of ways. First emotionally and later economically. Chuck Dressel owns Mount Pleasant Winery in Augusta.  He said, “It’s truly devastating, we’re going to feel this for years.”

Dressel has watched news reports from Napa.  He’s worried about the family owned winery owners in California that he does business with, many are also his friends.  Dressel said, “Your heart sits there and goes my God first of all I’m glad they’re safe it’s just terrible you feel for them.”

Dressel has been in the wine making business for more than a quarter of a century. He buys about 6,000 pounds of California grapes a year. He also exports grapes and big containers of wine to the Golden State to sell there. Wine lovers like to experience wine from different locations. Dressel added, “They want something a little different and little interesting and want the same thing from them so we do a little trading.”

He said 90 percent of his crop this year has been harvested.  While only about 70 percent of the grapes have been picked in California. He fears that even those grapes that survive the fires will be ruined by the smoke, they will taste bad. He expects to be selling a lot of his wine and many of his grapes to Napa Valley vintners in the coming years.  And, he warns consumers this will hit them when they buy a bottle in the future. Dressel said, “I think the really great wines are going very, very expensive.”

Ten years ago, Dressel had to recover from a natural disaster, a frost killed almost all his crop. He ended up importing enough California grapes to make 150,000 bottles of vine.