A quick and positive response to a natural challenge
Many people have asked me how Napa Valley is doing after the Aug. 24, earthquake. Simply stated, Napa is open for business, having a fantastic wine year and invites you to come see for yourself. Now through the holidays is especially fun and festive. Napa needs visitors to experience its tasting rooms, join its wine clubs and enjoy its abundance of fine food and wines. One of the winery owners explained it very simply. Wine lost in the quake is just a loss. It can’t be recovered. People coming to experience the community, with its resorts and restaurants and retail establishments as well as its many wineries; provide needed revenue as they share in the incredible beauty that is the Napa Valley.
One of the first people I spoke with is Andrew Bradley from Meritage Resort and Spa, an extraordinary four-diamond luxury resort set against a hillside vineyard in the Napa Valley. He reported that his beautiful property sustained no significant damage and added, “We just got busy right away helping others throughout the Valley. We offered discounted rates to residents and free rooms to people in the industry who had no place to stay. We matched many donations to the Red Cross and also donated $1,000 to the Napa food Bank to help with the response effort.” The resort also posted links on its website so that other concerned individuals and organizations could easily contribute to the Red Cross relief effort. As for the resort, Bradley was happy to say that not a single reservation needed to be cancelled.
The Napa General Store on Main Street did have a bit of damage with broken glass and merchandise and also sustained some damage to its back wall. According to proprietors Jill and Jim Brandt, the community is close-knit and very attuned to doing whatever is necessary for a fast recovery. Jill Brandt commented, “We are all essentially in the wine business, even if we technically are not. Everyone knows that we need tourism to keep our community healthy. That common goal kept things moving forward.” Jill and Jim Brandt were further impressed by the kindness and can do attitude of the valley. “People asked us, ‘Are you okay?’ ‘Can I help you clean up?’ ‘Do you need anything?’ and all this accompanied by many hugs. Our community stood so tall and it was a very proud time to be from Napa. I would love for the nation to see our strength. Napa Valley really does Rock!”
Laurie Rich of Falcor Winery said, “At the heart of it, Napa really is a small farming community and its downtown was closest to the quake. The quake occurred in the middle of the night so almost everyone felt it and had a story to tell. Afterwards, we all just rallied. Our winery is about a mile and a half from the epicenter but we were lucky enough to have almost no damage. I did have some sweeping up to do in the tasting room but nothing major. Overall, the official response was quick and efficient. Everyone got the help they needed and the community just worked together beautifully.” At Falcor, Rich is now in the middle of an exceptional crush and thinks this year’s wines will be outstanding. Of course, as a vintner, the crush is her favorite time of year. “It’s always gorgeous and sensuous to see the grapes come in. Everything smells so wonderful and everyone is energized and excited. For visitors, watching the whole process adds so much to their enjoyment of the wines,” she said. “And the crush is always so much fun to watch.”
Tyffani Sedgwick, who works in marketing for the V. Sattui Winery, agreed. The grape harvest, she reported, has been absolutely beautiful and its quality exceptional. She observed, “Right after the quake, and I mean right after, in the very first hours, there was just a tremendous effort by the vintners, friends and neighbors to help each other out. Almost all the wineries that suffered damage were operating normally in just one or two days. It’s been heartwarming to see everyone coming together.” According to her, the only thing not quite normal right after the quake was the visitor count. She wants everyone to know that her winery, like all of Napa, is open and ready to offer the world-class wine, food and hospitality that have made the Valley famous.
That’s good news for Chris Pucci as well. This talented young singer performs in many of the areas’ premier wineries and venues, including Peju Winery in Napa and the Kofman Auditorium in Alameda. His pedigree includes the Julliard School of Music and the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Program in New York City and performances in many famous opera houses and concert halls. A versatile artist, Pucci currently is working on an innovative new genre, which combines rap orchestrations and operatic vocals, to add to the rock, jazz and pop standards already in his repertoire. “I say to everyone to come to Napa, enjoy the wines and let me perform for you!”
Every single person I spoke with emphasized how happy Napa is to welcome visitors. These are people who love what they do and love sharing their enthusiasm with other people. Their great love of terroir, the unique place that is the Napa Valley, has got to be the defining characteristic of its vintners, hospitality providers and residents. The quake had no affect whatsoever on this year’s crush or on the wine stored in bottles. Napa is as beautiful as ever and is just waiting for you to visit!