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Napa Valley Reboot: After the fires

Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Travel News

At two of the area's popular winery tasting rooms -- Rutherford's Grgich Hills Estate and the Castello di Amorosa outside Calistoga -- I found the settings flawless and customers happily sipping.

Henriette Steinrueck, Castello's vice president of operations, later told me that sales in early November were about half their usual level. By early January, she said the shortfall had shrunk to 15 percent to 20 percent.

Among the more than 400 wineries in Napa County, Napa Valley Vintners spokeswoman Patsy McGaughy said, five sustained significant damage. Of those, McGaughy said, just one that was open to the public before the fires is still closed -- Signorello Estate in the hills off the Silverado Trail. Its owner has vowed to rebuild.

Info: Visit Napa Valley, Napa Valley Welcome Center, 600 Main St., Napa; (707) 251-5895,


The fires were a catastrophe shared by Napa and Sonoma counties, but the greatest damage was done in Santa Rosa, Sonoma's biggest city.

In all, county officials reported 24 deaths and 88,261 acres burned. Some 6,583 structures were destroyed, including 5,093 residential units.

Santa Rosa lost more than 3,000 homes and many businesses, including the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel, the Fountaingrove Inn and its historic Round Barn building, most of the Journey's End Mobile Home Park and most of the Paradise Ridge Winery (but its off-site tasting room in Kenwood is still in business).

Yet most of Sonoma County's lowlands look like most of Napa's lowlands: idyllic, prosperous and Instagram-ready. A voluntary survey of Sonoma County growers found just 92 crop acres of wine grapes damaged along with 80 acres of pasture.

The flames never reached Sonoma Plaza, where Sonoma State Historic Park and Mission San Francisco Solano stand among shops and restaurants.


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