More than 97,000 gallons of red wine spilled from a storage tank at a California vineyard and leaked into the Russian River, causing local water officials to worry of environmental damage.
The cabernet sauvignon -enough to fill more than 500,000 bottles- spilled from a Rodney Strong Vineyard's storage tank in Healdsburg on Wednesday around 1.30pm.
A two-foot wide oval door near the bottom of a 100,000-gallon wine tank popped open, spilling between 46,000 and 96,000 gallons of wine into the river before it was sealed again.
This wine spill may be the biggest in the county's history and most certainly the last two decades, Don McEnhill, executive director of nonprofit Russian Riverkeeper, told Press Democrat.
McEnhill added that he can't recall a spill of the magnitude reaching the Russian River.
As much as 96,000 gallons of cabernet sauvignon spilled into the Russian River in Sonoma County, California, after a storage tank leaked Wednesday
Rodney Strong spokesman Chris O’Gorman revealed the company is conducting an internal investigation and cooperating with authorities.
He said: 'We are deeply concerned and are doing everything in our power to protect our waterways.'
First, the wine drained into an inlet on the floor of the winery's production building and then traveled through hundreds of feet of underground pipes that empty into four wastewater ponds on the premises.
The red wine traveled through several miles of underground pipes, wastewater ponds and Reiman Creek before reaching Russian River
Rodney Strong Vineyard released an initial statement about the spill on Facebook, saying wildlife appeared to be unaffected
After those ponds filled up, wine runoff poured into Reiman Creek, an industrial stream that runs through the vineyards. The continual rush of wine eventually overflowed into the Russian River.
Aerial footage from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Henry 1 helicopter showed the wine lining the riverbank for several miles downstream.
In just a matter of hours the red wine traveled nearly five miles downstream to Riverfront Regional Park.
Healdsburg Fire and the Sonoma County Fire District initially dispatched to the scene two hours after the leak, but their containment equipment was ineffective for a substance like wine.
Aerial footage from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Henry 1 helicopter showed the wine lining the riverbank for several miles downstream
State and local conservation agencies are monitoring the Reiman Creek and Russian River to asses the environmental damage
O’Gorman says that some of the wine was saved before it leaked out of the building, adding that the internal investigation has 'almost completely' ruled out human error.
'We were able to control the leak and shut the tank and save some of that wine. A lot of it was captured in the building without it leaking outside,' he said.
Since 1979, there have been two other notable wine spills in Sonoma and Napa counties.
That year, the Charle Krug Winery, the