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‘Catastrophic’ fire damages Larson Family Winery in Sonoma County

With roots that date back to 1899, Larson Family Winery was one of the earlier wineries to open in Sonoma Valley. But a devastating blaze Wednesday night has reduced the tasting room to rubble.

The fire ignited around 8:55 p.m. in the 23000 block of Millerick Road in Schellville, according to assistant Chief Mike Mulas of the Schell-Vista Fire Protection District, which responded to the scene.

A statement from Johanna Holm, marketing manager of Larson Family Winery, said the tasting room will be “closed for the foreseeable future,” and Mulas said the structure suffered severe damage from the flames and smoke “from one end to the other.”

“No one was in the building when it happened, no humans or dogs were harmed,” Holm said. “We are lucky to be so close to the Schell-Vista Fire Department.”

Last night while flying air patrol over the Santa Rosa area, the Sheriff’s Helicopter “Henry-1” responded to assist Schell-Vista Fire Protection Dist with a structure fire at the Larson Family Winery, located in the 23000 block of Millerick Road, Sonoma. Once overhead, H1 provided aerial reconnaissance for the firefighters on the ground who worked to contain the fire. Schell Vista Fire Protection District is investigating the incident.

Posted by Sonoma Sheriff on Thursday, March 3, 2022

The Larson family released a public statement Thursday afternoon acknowledging the “catastrophic” loss, not just to the property but to the history of their family in Sonoma.

“We are devastated by the loss of our business and priceless historic Sonoma Rodeo and Larson Family memorabilia,” the statement said. “The barn-turned-tasting room suffered irreparable damage and will be closed until further notice.”

Mulas said the fire was put out by Schell-Vista fire crews in approximately 15 to 20 minutes while the clean up of the rest of the structure continued for about three hours. Schell-Vista also left an engine at the property overnight, he added, in case any hot spots ignited. Mulas said fire and insurance investigators would be on scene Friday to determine the cause of the fire.

Larson Family Winery was once home to the Sonoma Rodeo, where famed horse trainer Buster Millerick, who worked with Seabiscuit, learned to ride. The barn once used for the rodeo was converted into the winery’s 1,600-square-foot tasting room. The building was adorned with memorabilia that tells the story of five-generations of the family in Sonoma and was the exclusive place to buy Larson Family wine.

The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers offered a statement of support to the Larson family, and noted their long history contributing to the grapes and wine of Sonoma Valley.

“We are deeply saddened that they are faced with this tragedy, and the devastating loss of the tasting room, and pieces of Sonoma history,” said Andriana Duckworth, interim executive director. “SVVGA is here to support the family, their staff members, and the winery in any way that we can.”

Contact Chase Hunter at chase.hunter@sonomanews.com and follow @Chase_HunterB on Twitter.

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