Last week’s fire at the Windmill Ridge Winery displaced a family of seven people, and community members have offered support as they work to repair the damage.
A statement issued Monday says the local fire department was alerted to a fire at the winery at 8338 W. Linne Road at about 1:15 p.m. Aug. 1. South San Joaquin County Fire Authority crews arrived and found smoke and flames coming from the front and east side of a single-story home.
The home is on the winery property, but it is not part of the business operations. Five adults and two children lived there, and four of them were inside when the fire started. They all escaped uninjured.
By the time firefighters tackled the blaze, it had extended from the living spaces into the attic. The fire department sent 19 firefighters with four fire engines, a ladder truck and a water truck, and they had the fire under control in about 30 minutes.
A hallway, bedrooms and the attic were burned, and smoke damage extended throughout the home. No one was injured, but the fire department estimated the loss to be $350,000 in property damage and lost possessions.
Grace Paget, an event planner in Tracy, has known the owners of Windmill Ridge Winery, Jeimy Lopez and George Violante Jr., for years because of events held at the winery. Speaking on behalf of the family, she said that the couple’s daughters, ages 6 and 3, were home with their grandparents when the fire broke out in one of the rooms, quickly filling the home with smoke.
“Everybody got out safe,” Paget said. “Everybody is doing well physically.”
That evening, she said parts of the house that were still smoldering rekindled and started a second fire.
“Whatever wasn’t damaged in the first part of the fire during the day certainly got burned up in the second fire, and pretty much the entire house is gutted,” she said.
The home stood next to another building used by brides to prepare for weddings at the winery. Paget said that building and the wine tasting room were both undamaged.
Even so, the fire has curtailed some of the business at the winery.
“They are so busy doing paperwork with the insurance and cleaning up what they can to try save what items they can,” Paget said.
Since the fire, the couple and their children have been staying in a camper trailer while the grandparents stay inside the winery.
Paget confirmed that the winery’s tasting room will be open Saturday and Sunday. Hours are noon-5 p.m., and the tasting fee is $15.
“They want to get back to business as normal,” she said. “On the 16th, they have an event. So they are hoping to have it cleaned up and in a safe state so they can continue to function within the winery space.”
Windmill Ridge Winery is also scheduled to be the starting location for the Tracy Police Activities League’s second Poker Run on Sept. 7.
Paget set up a GoFundMe page to help the family as they try to recover from the loss of their home and keep the winery open. As of Thursday morning, people had contributed $3,720 toward a goal of $15,000.
SweetArts, the bakery at 1020 B St., also joined in the effort, creating a Facebook post asking people to give gift cards to replace belongings lost in the fire, including school supplies for the girls.
Paget said she hopes the community will help the family as they rebuild their home.
“My husband and I extended our help to them to see what they needed. We kind of know them closely, so we know their situation, and I knew they were going to need help,” Paget said. “They’re a great family. They have been very generous to our community — it’s really good to see that love and support.”