Dallas Couple, Owners of Acclaimed California Wineries, Work to Help Neighbors Affected by Wildfires

Thursday morning, Craig and Kathy Hall left their daughter’s home in San Francisco headed back to the fire-besieged wine country, where the well-known Dallas couple own three acclaimed wineries, a boutique hotel and 3,500 acres of rolling land and vineyards.Craig wiped off a fresh layer of soot from the windows of their white diesel SUV that had turned a grimy gray from ash that blew in overnight from Napa that lies 50 miles north.As they approached the land of devastation, Craig pulled off so that they could make a few calls. So many cell towers have burned down that service was still iffy at best.Ironically, there was little traffic.Few people are headed into the danger zone, and those already there are hunkered inside because the air quality is so hazardous.So far 29 people have died and hundreds are missing in the wildfires that have swept through Northern California since Sunday. Firefighters are still struggling to stop them from spreading.But Kathy and Craig are among the lucky ones. Their wineries and tasting rooms in Sonoma, St. Helena and Rutherford have been spared thus far.They’ve had their first full-night’s sleep since being awakened by a pre-dawn text from an employee on Monday morning instructing them to look out their bedroom window. From their mountain-perch house in Rutherford they could see flames creating huge, billowing clouds of black smoke.They’d known when they went to bed Sunday night that there were a few fires, but hadn’t worried about it.“I got up and looked, and it was frightening,” Kathy recalled Thursday afternoon, back in their Rutherford home.It was Atlas Peak burning about eight miles away.“By Monday morning, the air was packed with smoke,” Craig said. For nearly four hours, all of the company internet phones, including those at their Senza hotel, were inexplicably routed through a server to the phone in their kitchen.  Continue reading...

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