Despite sustaining damage in the recent Bel Air fire, one plucky Los Angeles winery was at the GBK Luxury Lounge for the Golden Globes on Sunday, offering white and red selections to nominees and presenters stopping by their table.
“Everyone we have talked to today has expressed sincere concern over how we are doing,” enthused Roxanne Langer, Moraga Bel Air's sommelier. “The fact that celebrities know who we are is terrific. That they care about what’s happening in our local community is awesome, too.”
Langer said that while Los Angeles is known for many things, very few knew the winery existed.
“But with all the media attention we received due to fire, there’s now a lot more awareness about us, which has been great.”
Celebrities like Alan Cumming (CBS’ Born This Way), Anthony Anderson (ABC’s Black-ish) and Paul Sorvino received a $90 half bottle of red from the vineyard and an exclusive Golden VIP Experience, with a tasting of wines and crudites.
Owned by Rupert Murdoch, Moraga’s 14-acre private vineyard lost two storage unit buildings after fire spread from an adjacent large, open space to the upper part of the vineyard.
“At 5:30 a.m. I smelled smoke and went outside,” said Langer, vividly recalling all the chaos from that fateful day. “My winemaker, Scott Rich, called and urged me to evacuate. We got out of there and, later, while watching the news, saw a helicopter drop water on the winery … We knew some portion was on fire.”
Fire chiefs were on the property, but only at the very edges of the vineyard.
“Thankfully, the vines work[ed] as a fire break, which protected the rest of the estate from burning. We were very grateful that those vines were able to slow down the flames,” acknowledged Langer.
While Moraga’s packaging process was disrupted, Langer was able to call on all of her vendors to very quickly produce what they needed for holiday purchases.
“They were able to help, and we were still able to fulfill all of our Christmas orders, which was very important to us. And we are doing well; all of our grapes have already been pulled so there is no smoke taint, and our barrels are in the cellar. It’s business as usual.”
The few vines that they lost can be replaced and the storage area rebuilt, noted Langer.
“The entire team at Moraga is extremely thankful to all the first responders who protected our property and this entire neighborhood. The good thing in all of this is that it brought our neighborhood closer together.”
Langer is looking forward to continuing the relationships created during the fire crisis. “Along with The Bel-Air Restaurant, we are inviting our neighbors to join us at the winery next month for a reception, to personally thank the firefighters and police who saved our area.”
Added Rich: “I'm so thankful it was property, not people and not someone's home. Also happy for the rain this week; it’s always good for the vines this time of year.”
This spring, Moraga will release two wines, a 2014 Moraga Bordeaux red wine blend and 2016 Moraga White Sauvignon Blanc.