Nearly 100K Gallons of Wine Spill From Healdsburg Vineyard, Reach Russian River

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An aerial video showed red streaks of wine coursing down the Russian River after nearly 100,000 gallons of cabernet sauvignon from Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg spilled on Jan. 22, 2020. (The Press Democrat/Youtube)

More than 97,000 gallons of red wine spilled from a tank at the Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg and eventually leaked into the Russian River, an accident officials said could hurt water quality in the 110-mile tributary flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

The cabernet sauvignon, enough to fill eight large tanker trucks, spilled at the Sonoma County vineyard Wednesday after a door near the bottom of a large blending tank popped open, spilling all of the wine it was holding into a sanitary sewer system on the property, the Press Democrat reported.

The wine spilled into a drainage ditch that feeds into Reiman Creek and eventually made its way to the Russian River.

The winery is conducting an internal investigation and cooperating with authorities, Rodney Strong spokesman Chris O’Gorman said Thursday.

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“We are deeply concerned and are doing everything in our power to protect our waterways,” O’Gorman said.

According to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, which was notified of the accident on Wednesday, about 20% of the 97,112 gallons spilled were contained. Estimates showed anywhere between 46,000 and 96,000 gallons reached the Russian River.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter determined the wine reached as far south as Riverfront Regional Park within a matter of hours.

Rodney Strong contracted with two vacuum truck operators to clean up the spill and tried to assemble a dam in the creek, Sonoma County Fire District Battalion Chief Mike Elson said. The containment measure was unsuccessful, since water was flowing faster because of the recent rains.