A caller reported the leak that originated from Rodney Strong Vineyards, a winery that offers a large menu of wines, including sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and red blends. The vineyard is involved in cleanup efforts as it investigates what its communications director, Christopher O’Gorman, said “appears to be a mechanical failure,” KABC-TV reported.
“We’re not entirely sure of that at this point,” he told the station, “but we’re deeply, deeply concerned about this leak and protecting our waterways here in Sonoma County.”
O’Gorman told The Washington Post in a statement that the winery estimates at least 50 percent of the wine has been diverted from waterways as of Friday afternoon.
Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopters found the wine about five miles south at the Riverfront Regional Park, the Associated Press reported.
The winery responsible for what might be the largest wine spill in the county’s history has contracted two vacuum spill trucks to help contain the wine, the Press Democrat reported. Rodney Strong Vineyards tried to make a dam in the creek, but the effort failed because the water was running faster than normal because of recent rainfall, the Associated Press reported.
Charles Reed, a water supervisor for the California Environmental Protection Agency, told the Press Democrat the heavy rains probably diluted the acidity of the water.
The county water quality board has looked at two potential permit violations, the paper reported.
State experts responded to the scene Thursday to assess water and wildlife damage, according to the Press Democrat. Water samples about the amount of fish killed will surface in the coming days, and a detailed report about the reach of the wine spill will be completed in two weeks, Reed told the paper.
O’Gorman told KABC-TV the winery is examining its other tanks and that it has moved wine out of the area to prevent future leaks.
The issue could have been more catastrophic, Don McEnhill, executive director of Russian Riverkeeper, told the outlet.
“We’re lucky in that it’s winter, the river is high, there’s a fair amount of dilution,” he said. “We haven’t had any reports of fish kills, certainly the biochemical oxygen demand and the acidity of the wine is going to kill some smaller insect type things that are fish food.”
California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife told the station the winery could be staring at misdemeanor charges or penalties.