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Mudslide keeps Saratoga winery closed

A giant mudslide completely blocked the road into a Saratoga winery, leaving the owner stranded for weeks.

It left the driveway into Savannah Chanelle Winery submerged in mud, which prompted its closure on Jan. 3.

After a huge section of the mountain descended on the road, Michael Ballard said the only way he can reach his home now is to use these makeshift steps he built into the hillside.

He said he’s been stranded for nearly two months and is worried what might happen if he has an emergency.

“If someone were to have a major medical issue there’s just no way to get a vehicle on the property to assist,” said the owner of Savannah Chanelle Vineyards. 

It’s not just mud that’s descending. Ballard said that with customers blocked from visiting the winery, his profits are falling too.

“I’ve got 25 employees who are out of work and we are out of probably a quarter million dollars in revenue since this began,” said Ballard. 

He said the slide started on his neighbor’s property but with trees, rocks and mud falling every day, he’s frustrated Caltrans isn’t doing more to clear the slide to protect drivers on Highway 9.

“This has been a long-standing public safety issue on Highway 9 and Caltrans has done nothing to mitigate the damage,” said Ballard. 

Caltrans said in a statement, “The slide in question originates at a point well removed from Caltrans property. As a state transportation agency we are not permitted to utilize public funds to resolve this active slide on private property.”

Caltrans also said it has removed debris impacting Highway 9.

But Ballard said it hasn’t done enough and he is pursuing legal action while he braces for the next storm.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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