Healdsburg Wildfires

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Wildfires Healdsburg, August 20th, 2020

We are having the usual wildfires in Sonoma County in the late summer. The fires are early this year. Usually it is October when they get going.

Not this year. Vineyards are scrambling to harvest before the grapes get too “smokey”.

Smoke and ash fill the air. “Too soon. Too soon.”

The TV news tonight had the owner of Passalaqua Winery out on West Dry Creek Road whining about how he’s protecting his property by bulldozing down trees and shrubberies. (The county would not have allowed that before the fires. No mention on the news of THAT!)

The wine is pretty good. The Passalaquas have been a strong Italian family in Healdsburg and the county for over 100 years. I’ll attach a photo of the Passalaqua mansion just up Fitch Street from us. It is the largest home in town, well, until the SF folks started building their mega mansions.

One of the second or third generation Passalaquas became the District Attorney of Sonoma County. He was so bad that he was voted out of office in the next election. There is a Passalaqua legal office five blocks from our house.

One day on our walks we walked by and heard a Passalaqua lawyer yelling at his young male client, “If you can’t pay me. I will garnish your wages!” It wasn’t pleasant.

My favorite Passalaqua story is about the original Passalaqua who come to Healdsburg from a small town in northern Italy. He built the mansion. He was a lawyer and real estate developer.

His wife died. So Passalaqua went back to his village in Italy and married his dead wife’s twin sister and brought her back to Healdsburg.

I guess men get used to things being in the same place.

Ten years ago or so they had the mansion repainted. I asked the painters what was in there.

“There’s a pool table on the top floor.” The Painter told me.

Then the old man died and a few years later the widow died and of course it was bought by local Italian vineyard owners who are putting in a pool(s), guest house, olive tree orchard… etc. They still haven’t fixed the fountain.


I watch the TV news and even though there are bigger fires in the south bay and east by, the news always starts with the fires west of Healdsburg. The TV news ignores Napa, San Mateo, and all the rest. Healdsburg is the star.


It’s very strange.


PS: The fires are in that green hilly forested ridge region to the west of Healdsburg,

passalaqua mansion

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