Oregon wineries are reportedly seeking damages from US utility supplier PacifiCorp for alleged lost sales and harvests following 2020’s wildfires.

The lawsuit has been taken by approximately 30 vintners from the Willamette Valley.

They allege PacifiCorp’s decision not to turn off power during a storm contributed to the fires and the subsequent damage to their crops.

It’s claimed soot and smoke created by the wildfires tainted grapes, reducing harvestable yields.

“Grapes and grape juice that are infused with smoke can carry the smoke compounds and smoke taste through the entire wine production, bottling process, and sale to the consumers,” according to the complaint, seen by news agency AP.

The case also notes growers had taken costly measures to try and save the harvest by cleaning soot and smoke from the grapes but in most cases grapes were too damaged to use.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Plaintiffs are seeking $100m in damages from PacifiCorp. The case was filed at Multnomah county circuit court in Oregon.

In a statement sent to AP, PacifiCorp said it was “committed to settling all reasonable claims for damages as provided under Oregon law”.

The vintners taking the legal action are located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which holds around two-thirds of Oregon’s wineries.

During the 2020 wildfires in the US, roughly 80 fires started in Washington state, worsened by high winds. It has been found that some of these fires were sparked by downed power lines. In total, approximately 130,000 hectares of land was burned and nine people lost their lives.

Last year, a jury found PacifiCorp was liable for failing to stop the power supply to customers, resulting in downed lines sparking fires, going against a warning by top fire officials in the state.

Speaking to Just Drinks last year, Foley Family Wines president Shawn Schiffer said: “We had to make a lot of investments in air monitoring equipment for the safety of our team members. We had to make a lot of investments in laboratory equipment so we could run an analysis of grapes to see if they were in fact tainted.

“The big priority we have is the safety of our team members. But the fires are very worrisome. They’ve driven up insurance costs and they’ve really become a factor to have to work around as you’re trying to make fine wine.”