HEALDSBURG, Calif. - State wildlife officials are closely monitoring a wine spill that occurred Wednesday at a Sonoma County winery, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday.
At about 1:30 p.m., at least one person at Rodney Strong Winery discovered a leak in a blending tank, which held about 90,000 gallons of wine, winery spokesperson Chris O'Gorman said.
O'Gorman said some of the wine from the leaking tank flowed into a building and entered a creek. He said over half of the wine was saved.
"We are investigating this apparent mechanical failure," O'Gorman said. "We are deeply concerned and are doing everything in our power to protect our waterways."
State wildlife officials are not sure whether the spill will harm fish and/or wildlife but they have not seen any impacts yet.
With the recent rain, Rieman Creek was running higher Wednesday so a lot of the wine was diluted by creek water, state fish and wildlife spokesperson Eric Laughlin said.
He said if it was oil, the spill could have harmed birds.
Laughlin said the tank held 97,112 gallons of wine and 80 percent went into the creek. Twenty percent was contained, he said.
But Laughlin said some of the wine reached the Russian River, which is downstream of Rieman Creek.
"They're probably smelling wine in Guerneville tonight," Sonoma County Fire District Battalion Chief Mike Elson said.
Elson said an access door on the side of the blending tank malfunctioned, which led to the leak.
A cleanup Thursday focused on the bank of Rieman Creek, Laughlin said. He said the winery's staff members contained as much of the wine as possible and vacuumed some of it out of the creek.