Updates: February 8, 2021
I can’t believe that just one year later so much has changed in our world. Aside from Covid-19, Northern California Wine Country battled historic fires in 2020. Over 190 structures, wineries, hotels, and restaurants in Napa and Sonoma Counties were damaged. Yet, not all is lost. If you can not safely travel to wine country you can buy wine online and in the stores. Some wineries offer online tastings via Zoom chats and Facebook. We can all support the wine country the best way we are able. California wine country is an American treasure.
Use this link from Visit Napa Valley to learn about current Covid-19 safety and protocols. In general, what you need to know is that all tastings are outside and by appointment.
Fundraisers And Related Information
Wine Country Fire Relief Fundraiser
A GoFundMe campaign, launched by five wine industry marketing professionals, focuses on direct relief for farmworkers (a vital part of the wine industry’s fabric) affected by the Glass Fire Incident in Napa and Sonoma Counties.
Also, this Eater article has info on the many places that have been damaged.
I Was Living In Napa
In 2017 I was working in Napa Valley when the fires roared through. I can assure you that they would not say it is safe to visit if it was not. Consider calling ahead to confirm reservations. Even if you’re visiting an area that was untouched by the fire it can take a few days to recover from an evacuation.
If you’ve fantasized about visiting California’s beautiful Napa and Sonoma wine country but still have not fulfilled that dream, the perfect time is now!
Original Article Begins Here
I’ve recently relocated to the wine country; living in Sonoma and working in Napa Valley. The northern California wildfires did indeed impact the wine country, but not in the way most people think. News coverage makes it seem as if the fires have taken out every vineyard and tasting room in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and counties beyond – and that’s just not the truth.
Let me explain.
When a natural disaster strikes a side effect is that we are bombarded with images of the ravaged area. True, we need to be aware of what is happening and the severity. The problem lies in the 24/7 information culture we live in. An article that is several days old lives forever on the internet. If we are not diligent in fact-checking we become part of the problem, spreading incorrect information.
Of the over one thousand plus wineries and tasting rooms in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties, fewer than 5% have reported fire or smoke damage.
Additionally, more than 90% of the crop had already been harvested. The remaining grapes that were still awaiting harvest were the thicker-skinned varieties that are mostly impervious to the smoke. 2017 will be a good vintage.
Let me say it again – The perfect time to visit Napa and Sonoma is now.
Update: Calistoga was never evacuated in 2019 and they are still recovering from the loss of 2017. Go visit!
Calistoga, a hamlet of 5,000 in northern Napa Valley was one of the towns evacuated. The fire came dangerously close. Though the town was spared, the economic loss was enormous. In all, about a week of business in the peak tourist season was lost.
Calistoga’s main street is lined with small shops, restaurants, tasting rooms, and galleries. Being closed down for a week equals thousands of jobs lost due to lack of income to pay workers and thousands more lost their homes.
Many hotels have dropped their rates significantly. Spas and other businesses are offering discounts. On Highway 29 the main road through the NapaValley, traffic is light compared to a normal October, which is high season. The tasting rooms are not as busy, especially mid-week. That means you can get some personalized attention. Imagine having Napa all to yourself! Well, almost.
Sonoma County Is Ready For Visitors
And let’s not forget our friends in Sonoma county. Dry Creek and Russian River Valley are two popular wine areas that saw no damage at all from the fires or smoke. Yet they, too, have lost tourists.
Here’s how you can help — come visit.
Enjoy fine dining in Michelin-starred restaurants or your favorite pizzeria. Soak in the mineral waters and mud baths of Calistoga. Kayak, hike, and bike the many trails. If you can’t make it in person now, buy a gift certificate that you can use later to benefit from the savings today. Buy wine online!
Check out the magnificent redwood trees at Armstrong Park in Sonoma County.
Try the Visit Napa Valley website for ideas and organizations that are donating to relief efforts for victims.
Sonoma County has a great newsletter with lots of information on where to go to make the most of your time there.
A Few Of My Favorite Wineries In Napa Valley
Here’s a partial list of wineries in Napa that I visited. They are all open for business.
Inglenook – Touristy but a great experience. Inglenook has a long history. Be sure to check out the cafe – the perfect place to stop for a coffee if you’ve had enough wine. But, is that possible?
Robert Sinskey has a beautiful tasting room offering food and wine pairings and seated dining. Robert Sinskey specializes in cooler climate varietals and grows most of his fruit in Sonoma County. Beautiful Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and handmade food items you can take home with you.
Gargiulo Vineyards makes excellent quality wines served in the tasting room or on the patio with great views of the vineyards. The staff is knowledgeable and delivers a five-star experience. You must book in advance.
Charles Krug – This is the first operational winery in Napa Valley so there is a lot of history here. Do not confuse Krug with the champagne maker. Be sure to take a tour of the property. They’ve also recently opened a small cafe in the tasting room.
Brasswood is a super fun wine bar, tasting room, and restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner, Brasswood also has a good happy hour.
Twomey – This is a cozy and friendly tasting room. Twomey makes solid wines from fruit harvested at vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties.
Romeo Vineyards – the tasting room is on Lincoln Ave. in Calistoga. It’s small, pretty and very friendly. Romeo produces wine mainly from Bordeaux varietals. They also offer dessert wines and a port-style wine that are delicious!
I will be adding to this list and including more detailed information and more wineries. Please check back. Or sign up to receive an email when I do an update.
Read this article in Marin Magazine, 7 Things To Do in Wine Country Now That the Fires are Out!
The Perfect Time To Visit Napa And Sonoma Is Now! Spread the word!