Winery in California with Hawaii ties impacted by Pacific Gas and Electric blackout

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More than two million people are without power due to the deliberate shut-down of electricity by PG&E.

A winery with Hawaii ties just outside of Napa Valley is also feeling the impact of the black out.

Flora Springs Winery president John Komes said he understands why the power company is doing it.

“In the big fire of 2017 when it came through Napa and Sonoma a lot of the power lines went down and transformers blew up and caused more fires. So they were thinking that when they have hot, windy days the best way to protect the public is to shut the power down…We all don’t want another fire like we had, the lost of property and life, so we’re a little bit generous right now with our acceptance of this situation,” Komes said.

Komes’ mother, Flora was born in Hawaii and graduated from McKinley High School before moving to the mainland. Komes is now president of his Flora Springs Winery, aptly named after his mother. The 500-acre property is in St. Helena, about 20 miles from Napa Valley.

He said the whole town went dark at midnight Wednesday.

“Here in St. Helena, the population is about 5,000. Things are all closed down cause we have no power…It was just an nuisance this morning getting up in the dark…I didn’t shave cause I couldn’t see myself in the mirror.”

He said that most people in town don’t have generators.

“So their coolers are going warm and freezers are thawing so it’s important that we get the power back and get going.”.

Last night, he said he also filled his truck with gas in case the pumps didn’t work today.

The outage forced him to close several areas of his business.

“We have a tasting room on the highway and the tasting room is without power and a generator so that’s closed today. We have a warehouse uptown where we store the cased wine where we ship from, that’s closed today too,” Komes explained.

Winery tours at the vineyard are still available by appointment only because they have a generator for power– it’s needed to keep the wine and grapes fresh.

“Right now we’re crushing grapes. So we’re picking, we’re harvesting and then we crush (the grapes) and put them in tanks and chill them until we start the fermentation,” Komes said.

He doesn’t know yet what the black out will cost him if it persists.

“I haven’t made the task of figuring out how much we might be losing. What happens is people get sent home. The workers don’t work. So I really don’t lose too much but the workers do.”

Komes said he heard the outage is only supposed to last two days. If it continues beyond that, the public perception of the outages will likely change.

“People are going to start getting edgy if this continues…this is the first one and this is the first one since the fire so people are pretty generous with their thoughts. But it’s not an acceptable situation to have power companies not be able to furnish you with power because you have a little wind,” Komes said.

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