Youngstown natives’ vineyard OK, but area in need


By Kalea Hall

khall@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Carmen Policy has been through other natural disasters, but the wildfires burning Northern California are “a whole different deal.”

“This is on a much higher magnitude,” he said.

The Policy Vineyard, owned by husband and wife Carmen and Gail Policy, both Youngstown natives, has been spared by the wildfires thus far.

“It’s awakening,” Policy said of the fires. “We are positioned, constructed and planned to be as safe as we can from as many natural calamities as possible.”

The Policy Vineyard is a boutique vineyard on 14.5 acres in Yountville, Calif., which produces Casa Piena wine.

“The media coverage tells only part of the story in terms of what is still occurring in the Sonoma & Napa Wine Country,” the Policys wrote in an email sent Friday to supporters and friends. “The Casa Piena Family is doing fine and our property is untouched. We fortunately had a very early harvest which was in the winery two-and-a-half weeks before the fire started.”

Policy told The Vindicator about some of the sights he saw: “A beautiful winery went up in flames and burned right to the ground while a gorgeous inn was saved – although it is now surrounded by black ash residue.”

“The people who survived some of the areas of the fire survived with dogs and children in hand and in pajamas,” he said. “One of our friends survived, but his neighbors perished. The culprit was extraordinary wind. It’s truly a tragedy.”

The Policys wrote in their email they are trying to help their friends and neighbors anyway they can and asked for donations to be made to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund.

“We’re thankful that our family is safe and that our property thus far has been spared from these devastating fires,” representatives from Casa Piena wrote in a Wednesday Facebook post. “We’re heartbroken over the losses of life and homes in our community, and are praying for all our fellow Northern Californians, neighbors and first responders.”

Carmen Policy, an Ursuline High School and Youngstown State University graduate, was a prominent criminal lawyer locally. He joined the San Francisco 49ers organization, which has been owned by the DeBartolo family since the late 1970s. The Policys moved to San Francisco but later came back to Ohio while Carmen was president, CEO and part owner of the Cleveland Browns expansion franchise, according to the Casa Piena website.

In 2003, the Policys returned to Northern California and purchased the property at the Policy Vineyard.

“After 25 years of happily competing in the world of professional sports and creating a treasure trove of memories, Gail and Carmen knew it was time for a change,” the Casa Piena website reads. “They found it in the amazing lifestyle and challenges that viticulture and the Napa Valley offered.”

On Friday, authorities reported finding another body in Sonoma County, raising the death toll to 36 and making this the deadliest week of wildfires in California history.

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said 30 detectives continue to work on finding missing people and that his office has more than 200 pending reports of missing people.

The wildfires ignited Sunday night.

Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 people, was one of the hardest-hit communities. At least 9,000 firefighters from across the state and the country are fighting the flames.

Contributor: Associated Press

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