The fires that scorched parts of Napa and Sonoma counties as well as other areas of Northern California are coming under control. The ordeal began the night of Oct. 8 as high winds and dry conditions fueled a rash of fires that quickly torched homes and businesses in various areas in the region. Fatalities from the fires in Napa, Sonoma as well as Mendocino counties reached 42 at press time.
Despite all the devastation, much of the meetings- and tourism-related businesses in Napa and Sonoma came through with minor damage or were unscathed.
According to an update from Visit Napa Valley, many businesses throughout Napa Valley were fully reopening about a week after the fires began.
“We encourage all visitors who have travel plans to the Napa Valley to confirm their reservations directly with their hotel, winery or other activity,” said Clay Gregory, president and CEO of Visit Napa Valley.
Each lodging property in Napa Valley is handling individual inquiries directly. The Visit Napa Valley sales team will continue to communicate updates with meeting planners and consortiums, as well as share leads with lodging partners for future business, as usual.
“The Napa Valley spirit of collaboration to rebuild and reopen is on display,” Gregory said. “Our thoughts remain with our residents impacted by these wildfires, including the more than 13,000 that rely on tourism-serving jobs.”
In Sonoma County, the city of Santa Rosa was one of the hardest hit, including the loss of both the Fountaingrove Inn and Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotels.
Fires were situated along Sonoma County’s eastern border, including Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa and Geyserville. Western and southern Sonoma County, as well as the Pacific Ocean coastline, were not impacted.
“While the fires impacted a portion of Sonoma County, the vast majority of our scenic beauty, rolling vineyards, amazing wine and locally grown food remains intact,” said Tim Zahner, interim CEO of Sonoma County Tourism.
“If everyone who bought a bottle of Sonoma County wine last year donated the equivalent amount to relief efforts, it would go a long way to helping,” Zahner said.
He added, “When the time is right, we’re going to need you more than ever to visit and help Sonoma County’s hospitality community get back to work. Our 20,000-plus tourism jobs are among small, locally owned businesses. We want to see you and welcome you to the Sonoma County we all love.”
Wineries were also assessing damage. A note on the website for Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) revealed the association had heard from 275 NVV trade association members sharing reports about the condition of their businesses and their operating status.
As of Oct. 17, 20 NVV members reported some degree of damage to their winery, outbuildings or vineyards.
One of Napa’s most renowned wineries, Signorello Estate, posted its status on its website:
Signorello Estate’s winery was destroyed in the wildfires on Monday, October 9. We are grateful that all 25 of our employees are safe, and our vineyards and barrel room were spared from the fire. We can, and we will, rebuild the winery.
—Ray Signorello Jr. & the team at Signorello Estate
For those wishing to help with Napa County fire relief and recovery efforts, below are suggested websites:
The Napa Valley Community Disaster
The Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership
For Sonoma, donations for recovery efforts can be made through local nonprofits, including:
North Bay Fire Relief
Sonoma County Resilience Fund