Falkner Winery catches fire late last night in Temecula Wine Country

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CalFire Riverside firefighters battle a three-alarm blaze at Falkner Winery in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 6. Valley News/CalFire Riverside

Ray Falkner, the owner of Falkner Winery, received a phone call from the winery’s security company around 11:30 p.m. last night that one of their motion detectors at the winery had fired. 

After police were dispatched and arrived on the scene, Falkner stated police saw flames and notified the fire department. 

Firefighters from CalFire Riverside and Pechanga arrived around 12:15  a.m. to 12:30 a.m., according to Falkner, who lives in the San Diego area and headed immediately to the scene. He said he was there until 6 a.m. this morning. 

The winery, located on the 40600 block of Calle Contento in Temecula Wine Country, was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived at the scene. There were no occupants inside when the blaze started and the fire was knocked down at about 2:30 a.m. 

No injuries were reported by CalFire Riverside. 

According to Falkner, the fire department’s initial inspection of probable cause was thought to be from an electrical fire started by a high voltage panel on the side of the building that shorted but also said fire investigators are coming back out today for further inspection.

“In the end, I would say there were a lot of firefighters,” Falkner said, “at least 50 or more. There were probably at least 10 different fire trucks to be able to deal with things, and they had to bring out a ladder to be able to get to the roofline.”

The fire started in a back corner of the facility, Falkner stated. “It managed to spread and it mostly spread upwards, and since the structure of the building is wood, obviously the fire just went pretty rampant.”

Falkner contacted some winery employees when he received the call to be available to meet with the fire department to answer any questions they might have.

“There is no damage at all to the Pinnacle building, that one went undamaged,” Falkner said. “However the electricity and internet goes from the winery building to the Pinnacle building and that somehow got damaged so that still has to be repaired.”

Nothing inside of the Pinnacle building was damaged.

“What we have to do as soon as possible is just work to get electricity and internet back to the Pinnacle, and then the Pinnacle can be operating which is our restaurant,” Falkner said.

As far as the prospects for the winery itself, Falkner doesn’t know how many barrels or case goods were damaged. 

“We do know that our office area got pretty torched according to the fire department,” Falkner added.

Falkner hasn’t been able to get inside yet. 

“The fire department has kept us restricted outside until they have somebody go through to structurally test things,” he said. 

Falkner Winery had reopened its doors yesterday to the public. They had opened the restaurant and the tasting room with food paired with wine. 

“That was coincidental because we weren’t using any of the electric in the panel that was the one that they suspect shorted out,” Falkner said, “so it’s just a matter of, as we looked at it, it was just very strange, it’s one of those bizarre electrical things that can happen when you have high voltage panels and something happens to the breaker and it sparks.”

Falkner hopes to get an electrician out tomorrow to take a look at replacing the wire in the conduit. 

“If we get internet over there and we’re able to get the electrical over there, then the only thing we have to do is get a new switch for our telephone system,” Falkner said. “I would love the Pinnacle to be back up and running for lunches starting possibly as early as this coming Friday.”

As far as the winery facility itself, Falkner isn’t sure when that one will be able to reopen. 

“They’re supposed to be doing an assessment today, to be able to look at it and understand, is it free and clear for people to be able to walk in, and we’ll have that answer by the end of the day, I hope.”

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at lhowe@reedermedia.com.