Monday, October 23, 2017

A Napa Winery’s Plea: Let The Public Know Wine Country Is Open For Business

Nightly images of the devastation from the Napa and Sonoma fires broadcast around the world have given the impression that damage to wineries and vineyards is widespread.  It is not.

Thankfully, Damage To Wine Country Is Minimal

If you’re a wine lover like me, you have focused intently on coverage of the recent fires that have blazed in Napa and Sonoma. We’re getting ready for a trip to Santa Rosa (which is where many news reports originated) so we’ve been particularly concerns about the situation.

Yesterday I received a news release from V. Sattui Winery in Napa. Not only do they make awesome wines (we really like their rosé) but they want to reassure wine lovers that wine country is open for business and looks forward to welcoming visitors. Here are some of the facts:

Of the nearly 500 wineries in the Napa Valley, only 7 wineries were severely damaged or lost.
  • Damage to vineyards was very minimal, as vineyards make effective fire breaks and 90% of crop was picked prior to the fires.
  • The fires burned predominantly in the forested hills and the well-known wineries situated between Hwy 29 and Silverado were nearly untouched by fire.

The impression left by these graphic images in the news have caused many to cancel plans on visiting Wine Country.  The perception of devastation in the Napa Valley is greater than reality.

Overall in wine country, Wine Spectator reported that: More than 200,000 acres have burned in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The death toll now stands at 42, with more than 7,700 structures destroyed, including at least 11 severely damaged or destroyed wineries and dozens more reporting property damage.

Those numbers sound like a lot but there are almost 500 wineries in Napa and about 250 in Sonoma. The general public, however, is skittish.

Wine Country Gets Double Disaster

The fires certainly were devastating, but even as the wineries and related industries and employees attempt to recover, they are being hit with another blow.

  • Innkeepers are reporting that most reservations in the next month have been cancelled
  • Tour Operators are reporting mass cancellations
  • Wineries and restaurants are seeing a fraction of the number of visitors that are usually here during the harvest season.
  • No traffic.The traffic that many locals complain about is nonexistent.  Roads are empty.
  • Many of the victims of the disaster are experiencing a double disaster for lack of work and or layoffs due to lack of business.

As Sattui pleads, Napa and Sonoma “need visitors more than ever to support the rebuilding  of our community by putting everyone back to work by visiting our wineries, drinking our wines, staying in our hotels and eating in our restaurants.”

The Napa And Sonoma Economy Is Based On Wine Tourism

  • 3.5 million visitors annually to the Napa Valley
  • Visitor spending annually in Napa Valley – $1.9 billion
  • Jobs supported by the Napa Valley Visitor industry – 13,437
  • The tourism industry generated over $47 million in TOT (transient occupancy tax) revenue to fund essential services and programs throughout Napa County

What You Should Know

  • Tell your friends that the Napa Valley and Sonoma are OPEN FOR BUSINESS.
  • Tourism is the lifeblood of the local community.The road to recovery is only possible by visitors returning to Wine Country
  • Virtually every winery, restaurant, hotel, B&B, tour operator and transportation company is OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

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