Wasted wine is never something we want to see, so you can imagine our devastation at the sight of nearly 100,000 gallons of cabernet sauvignon being spilt into a California river.
As much as 97,000 gallons (that’s enough red wine to fill more than 500,000 bottles) has leaked from a tank in a Sonoma County vineyard and spilled into the nearby Russian River.
The cabernet sauvignon poured from Rodney Strong Vineyards into a sanitary sewer system and creek on the property, according to a report from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
A statement from Rodney Strong Vineyards said that ‘at least 50% of the wine was diverted from waterways’,
but some of the precious liquid had made its way from the creek into the Russian River – explaining that at the time of the spill river flow was at its ‘highest volume of the week, at approximately 65 million gallons/hour, due to recent rains’.
Chris O’Gorman, spokesman for Rodney Strong, said: “We’re investigating what appears to be a mechanical failure, we’re not entirely sure of that at this point, but we’re deeply, deeply concerned about this leak and protecting our waterways here in Sonoma County.”
He added: “We feel like not that much wine got into the waterway. We are investigating the other tanks. We’ve moved wine out of that area to prevent any future leaks as well.”
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter crew identified the source of the wine due to the frothy red foam lining the banks of the Russian River.
While efforts have been made to recover as much of the wine as possible, with estimates of 20 percent of the 97,112 gallons being contained, the effects of the wine into the river are not fully yet known but are hoped to be minimal.
Don McEnhill, the executive director of non-profit organisation Russian River Keeper, said: “I’d say this is a case of dodging the bullet.
We’re lucky in that it’s winter, the river is high, there’s a fair amount of dilution.
“We haven’t had any reports of fish kills, certainly the biochemical oxygen demand and the acidity of the wine is going to kill some smaller insect type things that are fish food.
“This could have been a lot worse.”
While the financial loss of nearly 100,000 gallons of wine is not yet known, the cost could potentially spill into the millions.
The winery’s cabernet sauvignon retails at around $27 a bottle, and with enough for 500,000 bottles leaking out it could be a hefty loss for the California vineyard – what a waste.