Napa Valley

Perhaps you’ve read about or watched the news regarding the devastating fires in northern California over the past weeks.

So, what’s going on with wineries? Are they open, should you go, what do you need to know?

Yesterday, we toured though the areas of Napa Valley, the town of Napa, the town of St. Helena, and just north of there. We have not seen Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Glen Ellen, or other parts of the fire damaged areas.

Damage is real in the Napa area. Much of the fire damage is in the hills, on the hillsides, and above the valley floor…especially in the southern area of the Silverado Trail. Signorello Winery is completely gone and many others have damage, some extensive, all important. There is other damage to homes and areas we didn’t see.

But, Napa and St. Helena wineries and businesses are open for business. In fact, we were told they welcome visitors.

Some things we discovered:

Smoke still lingers in many areas. If you’re going to be outside for any length of time, wear a mask. But, it’s not solid smoke. You can still see the vineyards and hills. Also, if you have trouble breathing, a mask is a good idea. We didn’t have any problems breathing.

When the wind shifts, the smoke clears in one area and drifts to another area.

The hills are blackened in many areas. You can see where the fires burned the hillsides and stopped a few feet or less from a vineyard.

For the most part, the vines are not burned. There are some areas where they are singed, but not destroyed. Most of the harvesting of grapes was finished, with some crushing finished as well. We were told it’s a ‘wait and see’ about this year’s vintage.

Dozens of signs, if not more, thanking fire fighters and first responders line the streets and highways. Every business, every home, every corner has a sign. The work of the fire fighters and first responders is not taken lightly. It is all appreciated.

There are thousands of folks working to get these fires under control.

Restaurants and cafes offer free meals to fire fighters, first responders, and those who have lost their homes. In some cases, those restaurants deliver to fire camps or individuals. Everyone is pitching in.

Wineries and restaurants are open. If you plan to go, you’ll probably have your choice of appointment to taste wine and your choice of seating in most restaurants.

We had a fantastic tasting at Stony Hill Winery north of St. Helena. Sitting outside, enjoying the view was not much different than other times we’ve been there. Off in the distance wisps of smoke could be seen, but nothing that bothered us or hindered our tasting.

Lunch at the Goose & Gander in St. Helena was terrific, if not a little quiet. They thanked us for coming in and appreciated our business.

Tasting wine at The Terraces, along the Silverado Trail, we saw smoke in the distance. Business must go on. These people are all working hard to reestablish their livelihood.

Everyone is still vigilant. Fire is not something to ignore, even when it appears to be out. The winds can change, sparks can fly. But, Napa Valley is surviving this and wanting to get back on the road to recovery.

Bottom Line: Take a trip to Napa Valley and see for yourself.

 

One Time in Monterey

One time in Monterey

Regardless of whether you stay at the Asilomar Conference Center facility or not, you need to take some time to explore Asilomar State Beach.

Asilomar State Beach is a narrow, one-mile strip of sandy beach and rocky coves, with a coastal walking trail. Meander along 24 acres of restored sand dune ecosystem and discover over 450,000 plants, representing 25 species. Located within Asilomar Marine Reserve, all marine resources, animals, rocks, and shells are protected. No collecting or fishing is allowed.

Monterey cypress, Monterey pine, and coast live oak trees make up the surrounding forest. Living here are 90 species of birds…so get out your birding list and find some new ones.

Asilomar’s rich history dates back to its origins as a YWCA Leadership Camp built in 1913. Known as Monterey Peninsula’s “Refuge by the Sea,” the state park is located on 107 acres of state beach and conference grounds, within the quaint and scenic town of Pacific Grove. Asilomar is celebrated for its restored dune ecosystem and architectural significance, with cozy, historic structures designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan between 1913 and 1928.

After exploring the dunes, dust the sand off your feet and hit the road.Thirteen of Morgan’s original structures remain today and constitute her largest collection of Arts & Crafts style architecture in one location. Thirty years later, John Carl Warnecke (best known for John F. Kennedy’s gravesite memorial), created seven more complexes that make up the conference grounds. In 1987, the original Morgan buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Warnecke buildings will likely follow. While updates have been made throughout the decades, the tranquility and harmony found at Asilomar have been preserved.

It’s worth the time to take the 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach. One of the most famous scenic drives in the world winds you through the impressive Del Monte Forest and along the mesmerizing coastline. Homes, mansions, golf courses, horses, and again that fantastic Pacific Ocean coast…it doesn’t get much better.

Back toward Monterey, stop at the Fishwife Seafood Restaurant in Pacific Grove for dinner. Local seafood served with a Caribbean accent…it’s all good.

Then, back to the beach to watch the sun set…the perfect way to end One Time in Monterey.