HEALDSBURG, California — With an early harvest already underway, a wildfire a few miles west of John Bucher’s ranch added new urgency to getting his pinot noir grapes off the vine. If flames didn’t do any damage to the delicate fruit, ash and smoke certainly could.
Bucher hired an extra crew, and they finished the task before dawn Wednesday in the quaint wine country destination of Healdsburg, remarkably early in the year for a grape that is often not harvested until the end of September.
“It was just a race to get it done,” Bucher said, his voice hoarse after three days of almost no sleep and working in occasionally smoky conditions.
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