Almost 100,000 gallons of wine spilled into California river last Wednesday


October 23, 2021

The door of a blending tank at the Rodney Strong Winery burst open spilling more than 97,000 gallons of wine.

Last Wednesday, a blending tank at the Rodney Strong Winery in Sonoma, CA opened by accident, sending over 97,000 gallons of Cabernet spilling out. It’s believed to have been caused by a mechanical failure.

According to a spokesperson for the winery, some of the wine has entered the water system, including the nearby Russian River, but the amount that reached the river is as of yet unknown. The wine spilled out of the building and some entered nearby Reiman Creek, which flows into the Russian River. The area is a wildlife habitat and tourist destination.

The city administration is still in the process of assessing how much wine has leaked into the ecosystem. It could be anywhere from 46,000 to 96,000 gallons, and the Sonoma County sheriff’s office has enlisted a helicopter to track it.

The spill was enough to fill nearly 500,000 bottles, and only about 20% of it has been properly contained.

But according to Don McEnhill, the executive director of non-profit organization Russian Riverkeeper, the spill could’ve been much worse. “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. This could have been a lot worse.”