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Bay Area Wildfires Spare Historic Winery, Prompt Evacuations, and Complicate Outdoor Dining

Also: A kosher deli rises in Oakland, and more news to start your day

Hennessey Fire Burns In Napa County
The swiftly-burning fires in Northern California passed Nicehlini Winery by, but are raining ash on Bay Area diners
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Lightning strikes and dry weather have sparked fires across the Bay Area, raining ash over the region and prompting air quality warnings

Wildfires in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Joaquin, Sonoma, and Stanislaus counties continue to burn Wednesday morning, consuming tens of thousands of acres across the northern part of the region. Roadways in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties were jammed as residents fled that area’s fires late Tuesday, which as of this morning had not damaged any structures in that area.

Numerous structures have been destroyed in Napa county, however, the Bay Area News Group reports, and outside the fire zone wineries, restaurants, and residents remain in the dark, as PG&E shut down power in an effort to avoid sparking additional blazes. In the midst of the disaster, a bright note — Nichelini Vineyards, Napa Valley’s oldest winery, seemed to be smack in the middle of one fire’s path, “a wall of flames” advancing toward the 130-year-old property, the Bay Area News Group reports. ABC 7 reports that “fire came within feet of the historic structure,” but crews with Cal Fire managed to protect the kiln-dried redwood building and keep it safe.

The fires’ damage extends beyond the areas that have been damaged or destroyed, as Bay City News reports that as of Wednesday morning, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Spare the Air alert for the next 24 hours, at least. The alert means that levels of unhealthy air pollution across the entire region are severe enough that residents should remain indoors, with all windows and doors closed, until conditions improve.

As of this morning, air quality in San Francisco remains at “moderate” levels, ABC 7 reports, which means that for now, outdoor dining and other activities still don’t pose major problems for most (though those with respiratory problems should stay in). Conditions turn “unhealthy” further down the Peninsula, and in San Jose. The pollution will continue until the fires are extinguished, officials say, and could worsen as the week goes on.

And in other news...

  • Lakeshore Avenue grocery and sundries shop Oakland Kosher has expanded into a space-doubling 3,300 square feet, adding a hummus bar and a “New York-style kosher deli” with outdoor seating (and, when allowed, dine-in tables indoors, as well). Expect house-made corned beef (the spot has its own smoker), homemade hummus, and a vast selection of prepared salads. [J Weekly]
  • In Berkeley, an ice cream shop that was once a franchise of Three Twins is now called the Noble Cow Creamery, serving small-batch ice cream that’s made in-house. [Berkeleyside]
  • Prominent Lake County winery Steele Wines was just sold to Shannon Ridge, a neighboring brand. Shannon plans to turn the Steele property into “mixed-use mercantile,” including “picnic areas, live music, movies on the side of the building, a petting zoo, a farmers’ market,” buyer Clay Shannon says. [SF Chronicle]
  • Palo Alto’s Julia Morgan-designed MacArthur Park restaurant announced its temporary closure earlier this month, but outcry from fans has prompted it to reopen for takeout and delivery of its barbecue, salads, and cocktails. [East Bay Times]
  • Baskit, a new, pay-what-you-can produce delivery company, in the East Bay, was launched as a way to snag food for a nine-person cooperative, but swiftly evolved into a business. [Berkeleyside]