Willamette Valley winery owner: Wildfires in California wine cou - KPTV - FOX 12

Willamette Valley winery owner: Wildfires in California wine country ‘heartbreaking’

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Utopia Vineyards owner Daniel Warnshuis (KPTV) Utopia Vineyards owner Daniel Warnshuis (KPTV)
NEWBERG, OR (KPTV) -

As fast-moving wildfires fueled by winds rage in California's wine country, Daniel Warnshuis can't help but think of the place he called home for more than 20 years. 

“It really is heartbreaking,” he said. 

Warnshuis had wine businesses in Napa before moving his whole life to the Willamette Valley. 

“In 1998, I read an article in Pacific Northwest Magazine that said the Willamette Valley was going to become the next Napa Valley in the next 10 to 20 years and I was like, OK, that’s where I’m going,” said Warnshuis. 

And that's exactly what he did.  

“It wasn't too hot, it wasn't too cold, everything was just right,” he said. 

He bought land and built “Utopia Vineyards” in Newberg from the ground up. 

“Well Utopia, it's not just a clever name, it was my dream and it's something that I aspired to do all my life,” he said. 

It’s a dream that he can't imagine losing, like some people are facing right now in Northern California. 

“Looking at the maps and seeing all the fires and that's a small valley … it looks like they're going to have a big problem,” Warnshuis said. 

Like Napa, Warnshuis said if a major wildfire broke out here, it could be more than just his business in trouble. 

“It could be devastating to the winery, but also to the economy and to the community as a whole,” he said. 

In Yamhill County, many of the wineries are close together, which could make a fire in the area even more devastating for Oregon’s wine industry. 

“I mean, we are … wineries and vineyards are the number one job, you know, employment opportunity here in Yamhill County,” said Warnshuis. 

Right now though, Warnshuis is only thinking of his friends back in California, hoping for the best during a heartbreaking disaster. 

“It’s hard to even fathom … to see your life’s work going up in flames,” he said. 

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