Wineries Need Business after Napa & Sonoma Fires
October 25, 2017
Following Disastrous Fires, Napa/Sonoma Valleys Need Visitors Back
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
The recent Napa & Sonoma fires have left wine country reeling.
“Our message is, please come back to the wine country,” said John Winkelhaus, vice president of operations and general manager of V. Sattui Winery, the number one visited winery in Napa Valley.
The region just had some devastating fires.
“It was absolutely dramatic. We certainly just have heartfelt feelings for the folks that have lost their homes and their businesses. And of course, you can't measure the sorrow we feel for those who lost their lives,” Winkelhaus said.
Sonoma and Napa counties were hit pretty hard. Sonoma County was perhaps worse than Napa because of the devastation that was in that residential area.
It rained last Thursday, the fire was put out and the smoke was washed out of the sky, but now there's another problem.
“It cleared the air. I mean, we have beautiful blue skies here. But visitor traffic is way down,” Winkelhaus said. “We always have a lot of complaints about the traffic here in the Valley, especially on weekends. But there’s no traffic here."
“So, what's happened is that the people, our guests, our visitors who we depend on, allow our staff to come to work every day. They're not coming,” he said.
“Everybody has a mortgage or rent to pay, or food to buy, or bills to pay as well. ... In Napa Valley, 70% of the wage earners are earning their money through the hospitality business, whether it'd be the restaurants, or the hotels, or the wineries,” Winkelhaus said.
“There are 500 wineries in the area, and only seven were damaged or destroyed by the fire. So 447 are open for business and need business,” he explained.