As wildfires continue to devastate the West Coast, flames burning through a wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood have damaged part of a winery owned by conservative media magnate Rupert Murdoch. Though experts point to global warming as the culprit in the December wildfires, Murdoch has held fast to his belief that climate change is a hoax.
Flames fanned by strong winds reached a temperature-controlled wine storage shed on the mogul’s Moraga Vineyards estate on Wednesday after destroying at least six properties in Bel-Air and threatening hundreds more.
Firefighters were unable to keep the fire from Murdoch's $28.8 million estate, which has been evacuated.
“We are monitoring the situation as closely as we can and are grateful for the efforts of all the first responders,” Murdoch said in a statement. “Some of our neighbors have suffered heavy losses and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.”
The irony of wildfire striking Murdoch's property has not been lost on those who know of his beliefs about climate change, which he has referred to as "alarmist nonsense."
Earlier this year the estate’s winemaker, Scott Rich, told the Guardian climate change was aiding its production of sauvignon blanc and a cabernet-merlot dominant blend. “We’re finishing harvest a little bit earlier than we used to,” he said in May. “It’s been a positive thing. We don’t get rained on. Rain can ruin everything for us.”
Asked if they had discussed the impact of a warming planet on the vineyard with his boss Rich said: “I have not. My general feeling about people’s beliefs is that I’m not going to change them regardless of the discussion. I haven’t broached it with him.”