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Wednesday, 01 November 2017 11:34

Nearly Back to Normal

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Napa Valley scene captured after recent fires Napa Valley scene captured after recent fires Photo by Austin Robertson

By Dan Clarke

Three weeks ago fire broke out in the wine country of Northern California. It wasn’t just one fire, but several fires and unusually high winds spread them quickly.

The Counties of Napa and Sonoma were most seriously affected, but Lake and Mendocino County didn’t escape unscathed. The fires involved more than 100,000 acres. In all, some 8400 structures were destroyed. People lost homes and businesses. More tragic was the loss of life. At least 43 deaths are directly attributed to the fire and that toll might still rise.

Napa Valley Sign post fire PicmonkeyUntil now Taste California Travel hasn’t written a word about the fires. We followed developments daily, seeing businesses we’d patronized destroyed and wondering if we knew any of the families whose homes are now only ashes. We resisted journalistic impulse to start covering the situation. Though the fires raged for days and days, situations changed hourly. It was a news story better served by newspapers and television stations with enough staff to do the job right.

The internet edition of this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle has declared “Full containment reached on all North San Francisco Bay wildfires.” It’s over. Some people’s lives will never be the same, but the rest of us go forward. At times momentous events bring out the worst in people, but more often they bring out the best. We read of a couple of isolated looting incidents, but for the most part we heard of enormous effort of those who’re called “first responders” these days and the good will of the affected citizens they were helping. Heartening have been the relief efforts organized by people in this North Coast area and beyond. In some cases, way beyond. Fund raising activities for the victims have been reported from organizers as far south as San Diego and even as far north as the state of Washington.

We wouldn’t want to minimize the tragedy that these fires meant for many, but there is some good news. While a couple of wineries were destroyed and several others received some damage, nearly all the rest are intact and (still) in business. Vineyards are fire-resistant. A few have suffered fire damage, but most are healthy. At the time the first fires broke out, all of the white wine grapes had been picked and about 80 percent of the reds were already off the vine—there will be a 2017 vintage from the North Coast. Meanwhile, this wine industry which has become such an economic driver for this part of the state goes on. The wineries are open. So are the inns, restaurants, gas stations, retail stores and all the other businesses that benefit from wine tourism. This post-harvest time is ordinarily a very busy part of the year. Businesses in wine country have suffered a few bad weeks lately, but would welcome your visit in November.

When you’re planning your visit to wine country you may wish to check out Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you’ll find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to Wineries and even Craft Beer purveyors.
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