A New Zealand winery owner has described a "semi-panicked" phone message she got from her son caught up in the Californian wild fires.

Erica Crawford was on a flight to Singapore when she received the message from son Rory, who was doing a vintage at Frank Family Vineyards shortly after graduating as a winemaker.

It took several hours after landing at Singapore for Crawford to get through to her 23-year-old son, who was working at the winery with two young Australian winemakers.

A local police sheriff told the young men to evacuate, saying "if you don't go you are on your own", said Crawford, the owner of Marlborough's Loveblock Wines.

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Her son had reported they had fled the area and were being looked after by people who are under pressure themselves - a sign, she said, of the kindness that exists between wine people.

The harvest at Frank Family Vineyards, which was nearly completed, had been severely affected by the heat and smoke taint, Crawford said.

Crawford said cellphone coverage was patchy and hoped to get more information from her son.