After fire and smoke, California’s growers battle zombie apocalypse

Illustration: Rob Johnson

Just when California’s growers thought things couldn’t get any worse, the troubled 2020 vintage took an even more dramatic turn this week, with an unexpected outbreak of zombies.

Reports suggest that the infestation started in Dry Creek Valley before spreading south and east into Napa and Sonoma, where citizens kept the corporeal revenants at bay with blunt objects such as mallets, baseball bats and various forms of wine scoring system.

Early feedback also suggests that, like most creatures with half a brain, they can be repelled by blush Zinfandel.

‘With raging wildfires, billowing smoke, orange skies, civil unrest and Coronavirus, people were already saying 2020 felt like the apocalypse,’ said Major Seniors Jr of Maga Estate in Sonoma. ‘Now it’s a Zombie Apocalypse.’

But although the arrival of an army of the undead might sound like a recipe for disaster, the Californians have been swift to make the most of the situation.

Some wineries have already rented out their premises to film studios, who are taking advantage of the spooky orange glow and free zombie hordes to make cut-price disaster movies. Others have put the zombies to work picking in the vineyard.

‘They’re pretty slow,’ said one domaine owner, ‘but not much worse than your average hungover student, to be honest, and at least they don’t eat the grapes. So provided we can stop them devouring our human pickers, they’re actually a really useful addition to harvest time.

‘With labour a real issue at the moment, I’d probably look to keep them on the books for next year.’

With almost half the crop still to be harvested, the California Growers Group said that 2020 was looking better than expected, but it was too early to be definitive about the overall quality.

‘We’re still in limbo,’ said a spokesperson for the CGG, ‘though obviously not as much in limbo as the zombies themselves.’