Rumors of wine country ruin have been blown out of proportion. According to Wine Industry Network, Napa and Sonoma counties represent over 900 physical wineries. To date, 1 percent (less than 10 in total) of wineries have been destroyed, with varying levels of damage to others. According to the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance, 13 local wineries have reported some degree of damage due to the fires.

As for the 2017 harvest, both Napa Valley and Sonoma County Vintners reported that more than 90 percent of the crop had already been harvested before the fires hit. Napa Valley and Sonoma counties combined make up about 10 percent of the wine in California, with a possible loss of about 1 percent of California’s total crop for a single vintage.

As for smoke penetrating the wineries, UC Davis’s department of Viticulture and Enology put out a press release saying in part: “There is no data, but we do not expect smoke to be a problem in wineries. Fermenting wines will be protected by the released carbon dioxide and finished wines should be sealed to protect them against any smoke that may enter the winery.”

There’s plenty of good wines to go around until things get back to normal. In the meantime, the best way to help the Sonoma Valley wine region recover is to keep buying and drinking local wine. Tell your family and friends to join this meaningful wine tasting habit.

Sonoma savors ‘Pop Culture’

Windee Smith and Chad Richards, proprietors of the Panel wine shop in Sonoma, recently announced the launch of Pop Culture, a wine club devoted exclusively to small-production, grower Champagne and artisanal sparkling wine from around the world.

Members will receive three or six bottles every eight weeks or on a quarterly basis, each wine a rare and exciting discovery. The first shipments alone will include 2010 Pierre Gimonnet Special Club Brut Champagne and 2011 Vilmart Grand Cellier d’Or Premier Cru.

Smith and Richards said they came up with the idea for Pop Culture while doing their monthly tastings for the Panel Wine Club.

More than any other category, they said, Champagne and sparkling wines consistently offered tremendous pleasure at every price point.

Over the next year, they will feature sparkling wine from Italy, Austria, Tasmania, California, Germany, the UK, Champagne, the Loire — anywhere they can find extraordinary bubbles.

Pop Culture offers two memberships: La Bonne Vie, for Champagne only, and Rising Bubbles, for a global selection of sparkling wine, including Champagne.

Pop Culture is part of the Panel Wine Club, a Sonoma-based club dedicated to distinctive, artisanally produced wine.

Smith and Richards use their experience and contacts to source hard-to-find wines from around the world. Each one is blind-tasted by a rotating panel of wine experts, who make the final selection of the three bottles offered to club members each month.

For more information on membership go to: The Pop Culture website, www. clubpopculture.com.