Food // Wine

90,000-gallon tank of wine at Rodney Strong Vineyards leaks into Russian River

A 90,000-gallon tank holding Rodney Strong Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon suffered a leak, allowing some of the wine to make its way into the Russian River, officials said Thursday.

The Healdsburg winery sits about 40 feet away from a creek that leads into the Russian River. Some of the wine spilled directly into the creek, while some went into storm drains that feed into a pond, said Chris O’Gorman, a Rodney Strong spokesman.

Authorities were still determining the extent of the leak and its possible effect on water quality, but O’Gorman said winery employees captured at least half of the tank’s contents. He estimated that less than 45,000 gallons of wine escaped.

“We’re deeply concerned,” O’Gorman said.

Employees noticed the spill around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, and shortly afterward they called the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Healdsburg Fire Department.

The cause of the leak was still unknown, but employees moved all wine from surrounding tanks as a precaution in case of any other leaks. The winery pumped as much wine as it could out of the creek and called a wastewater maintenance company, Miksis Services, for supplemental pumping.

The Cabernet Sauvignon, from Rodney Strong’s vineyards in Alexander Valley, had been moved into the tank in preparation for bottling.

On Thursday, the winery and environmental officials continued to investigate the spill’s cause and its consequences.

“The main thing is to figure out what happened and to protect the waterways,” O’Gorman said. “At this point we’re investigating it as a mechanical failure and not an internal mistake.”

Esther Mobley is The San Francisco Chronicle’s wine critic. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Esther_mobley Instagram: @esthermob

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