Wine Country Going Strong

Although the early October wildfires that raced through California’s Wine Country caused lots of damage, the tourist spots and infrastructure of the region survived almost entirely intact.  As a resident of Sonoma County, and Santa Rosa in particular, I don’t want to minimize the impact of the fires.  Thousands of homes were lost across Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties, and the damage will run into the billions.  However the famed Sonoma and Napa wine country came through the fires well, and as winters mist rolls in, is as beautiful as ever. Yes, there are blackened hillsides, and a handful of wineries were touched by flames.  But in a vast region of many thousand wineries and thousands of square miles, the lasting damage to the industry was minimal.  As winter’s rains begin to arrive, many of the slopes blackened just weeks ago have already turned a vibrant green, and ecologists say that save in the most severe burn areas, almost all of the oaks that help give wine country its scenic character, will survive.

 

In fact, the push is on to lure visitors back, with deals and discounts galore.  The state has embarked on a multi-million dollar ad campaign to get word out that the region is still beautiful, and very much intact.  So now through the winter may be the best time to visit and experience the warm, wet lushness of northern California’s Wine Country when at its most serene.  All of the wineries are pouring, the shops are open, and even the Wine Country’s unofficial “capital” of Santa Rosa is experiencing something of a boom of interesting new restaurants.  And along with Portland Oregon, Santa Rosa is now considered one of the micro brew capitals of the country.  Dozens of new breweries have opened in just the past year.  Definitely a boon for those who lean more towards a nice rich porter than a warm merlot.

Oh, and yes you can still take a free carry-on of Sonoma County wines on board outbound flights from Santa Rosa airport.  So now through the winter is the time to head back to Northern California’s fabled Wine Country, before the crowds return in droves!

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