A Look at Napa Valley
Rachel and I walked downtown Napa yesterday taking pictures. A room from the second floor of the building that held Carpe Diem, a restaurant that hosted a bitching locals’ night making wine bottles half-off on Tuesdays, now sits on the sidewalk below. The roof dangles over it. Around the corner the County building is closed, unable to issue permits to people needing to do home repairs after the earthquake, because the County building itself suffered too much damage.
Mixed between such scenes are long stretches of businesses already open. Owners of restaurants and wine bars in downtown Napa after the earthquake discovered red wine streams rushing their hallways, and cellars feet deep in glass. In merely three days they’ve already cleaned. Losing days for a small business isn’t an option.
Along 1st, Oenotri opened two days ago with its seasonal menu, and a full bar. Their food is excellent. They’re known for their cocktails. One block over, the brand new Cadet Beer & Wine Bar re-launched last night. The hand-crank prosciutto slicer is turning. Most of the wine list (awesome wines from all over the state) are still represented. Two blocks down, Backroom Wines shop already has its bottles shelved and ready for sale. Wines by the glass are also resuming.
As much damage as has happened in Napa Valley, and it is significant, the biggest cost and long-term damage could come from loss of tourism. Harvest in the Valley proves the most important time of year not only for the wine it produces, but also the tourism revenue it generates. Numerous businesses are reporting reservation cancellations for weeks from now. Images seen in the news and online have convinced some the Valley as a whole is a demolition zone.
But, structural damage to the Valley has occurred in pockets centered primarily in South and Western Napa. With only few exceptions, wineries are still operating and open for business. Even wineries that have gotten ample coverage from damage to infrastructure, like Trefethen, and Hess Collection are ready for tasting room appointments. They’ve simply changed the building they’ll be pouring and hosting in.
Napa Valley does need help. Speaking with businesses hit hardest by the earthquake several things are obvious. It is small businesses, and everyone’s employees that have suffered the most devastating losses. Many larger wineries are providing time off, and assistance to employees who lost homes. Small businesses, as mentioned, can’t afford to close. They need the transformative strength of consumer buying power.
Here’s how to help.
1. Buy, and drink Napa Valley If you can afford it, don’t just pop open bottles of Napa wine you already have in cellar. Order bottles of Napa wine from your local wine lists, wine shops, and through online stores. Winery business models depend on bottles being sold through multiple channels. That means, every purchase you make of a Napa wine, even when not directly from the winery itself, will help keep that winery operating.
2. Eat, and drink Napa Valley If you are anywhere within proximity of Napa Valley, find a day you can drive up and enjoy a meal at any of the restaurants in the area. Everyone in the Valley suffers from loss of tourism revenue. Your visit to the Valley, anywhere in the Valley, makes a difference. As mentioned, downtown businesses in particular need your help. Restaurants along 1st, and also along Main are open. Oxbow Market is also open.
3. Stay Napa Valley If you had a trip planned for Napa, keep those reservations. Everything you need as a tourist is still here. The wine industry is still cranking through harvest. The harvest experience is yours to be had. The truth? Everyone in hospitality is going to be happy to see you. You can expect service friendliness to be up a notch. Driving through the Valley there are few visible signs of earthquake damage. The Valley is beautiful.
4. Community Contributions As mentioned, it’s employees, and individuals in the Valley that have been hit hardest. Many people have lost homes. Some are in homes without water. The Red Cross has provided temporary housing. The Food Bank is feeding people. Aldea Children & Family Services is providing counseling, and crisis relief for people affected by the earthquake. All of these groups can use your donations. Following are links for how to donate.
Aldea Children & Family Services http://www.aldeainc.org/get-involved/donors
Napa Valley Food Bank http://www.canv.org/donate.html
Red Cross Napa Valley Chapter https://www.redcross.org/quickdonate/index.jsp
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