Historic Soda Rock winery destroyed as Kincade fire has wine country under siege

The Soda Ranch winery along State Highway 128 near Healdsburg is destroyed by the Kincade fire early Sunday morning.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Kincade fire had Sonoma County wine country under seige Sunday, burning buildings in the famed Alexander Valley and destroying the Soda Rock winery.

“We’ve seen the news. We are devastated,” Soda Rock posted on Facebook. “We don’t have much information, but we will update you as soon as we know anything. Our staff is safe—right now what is most important is the safety of the first responders battling the fire. Thank you everyone for your concern.”

The stone-walled winery is considered a major historic site in the Alexander Valley and a popular tourist destination.


“Soda Rock is the original site of the Alexander Valley general store and post office, and was once the central hub of activity for the valley. Historic records provide evidence of the first bonded winery on this property in 1880,” the winery said on its website.

The site said the current owners were in the process of a painstaking restoration of the historic parts of the property.

The fire hopscotched the area, burning some homes and structures and sparing others.
Fire officials said Sunday morning that the fire jumped Highway 128 and moved into the Alexander Valley region around 4 a.m.

There is worry that it could jump Highway 101 between Healdsburg and Windsor.

Fire officials have deployed resources in an attempt to prevent that, but if the fire does cross the freeway it would enter a narrow buffer zone of flat agricultural land mostly used to grow grapes before reaching a dense mountainous region of old-growth redwood that Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said was difficult terrain to reach but sparsely populated.

Healdsburg and Windsor, north of Santa Rosa along the 101, were evacuated Saturday, and on Sunday morning fire officials urged holdouts to leave immediately, saying the winds were pushing the fire rapidly. Officials said 79 structures had been destroyed and 31,000 were threatened.

The National Weather Service recorded one gust Sunday morning at 93 mph just outside Healdsburg.

Essick said anyone remaining in Healdsburg or Windsor was in “significant danger.”