Winery spills thousands of gallons of Cabernet into California river

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Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A California river filled with wine when a tank of Cabernet Sauvignon sprang a leak at a popular winery.

Christopher O'Gorman, a spokesman for Rodney Strong Wine Estates in Healdsburg, confirmed the tank in Sonoma County sprang a leak Wednesday and wine poured into the Reiman Creek, which carried it to the nearby Russian River.


"We're investigating what appears to be a mechanical failure, we're not entirely sure of that at this point, but were deeply, deeply concerned about this leak and protecting our waterways here in Sonoma County," O'Gorman told KGO-TV.

He said a mechanical failure is believed to be responsible for the leak.

The California Office of Emergency Services said 97,000 gallons of wine spilled into waterways, but the winery said that number represents the full capacity of the tank and only about 20 to 25 percent spilled.

"We feel like not that much wine got into the waterway. We are investigating the other tanks. We've moved wine out of that area to prevent any future leaks as well," O'Gorman said.

Don McEnhill, the executive director of the non-profit Russian River Keeper, said volunteers have been monitoring the situation.


"We're lucky in that it's winter, the river is high, there's a fair amount of dilution. We haven't had any reports of fish kills, certainly the biochemical oxygen demand and the acidity of the wine is going to kill some smaller insect type things that are fish food. This could have been a lot worse," he said.

The winery said it worked with a third-party contractor to pump wine out of the river.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said an investigation is underway and misdemeanor charges and other penalties are possible.

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