It’s not a pretty sight in a lot of vineyards down south — but it could have been worse. At least that’s the assessment of some vineyard/winery owners who are just now getting back in touch with civilization.

Paula Payne and John York, owners of Hellanback Ranch Vineyard at Ramona, describe a frightful, but thankfully livable, scenario.

“We were without electricity for 21 days,” Paula says. “We finally got the power back Nov. 10.”

Oddly enough, past fire disasters in the area helped mitigate the devastation this time.

“We managed to dodge the fire bullet this time,” she says. “The Cedar fire four years ago cleared out most of the fuel, including a guest house, two barns, and all fencing. This time we had more wind damage. The vines are pretty battered, but we think they'll come back OK. The avocado groves, on the other hand, took a really bad hit with this fire.”