It’s hard to grasp the number of lives affected by the North Bay fires in October. And as the smoke dissipated from California’s wine country, the tourists seemed to have disappeared as well.
I was not the only one who thought many of my favorite places had been lost in the devastating fires. But having just visited the area, I’d guess 99% of local hotels, restaurants, and other tourist magnets still are open for business.
One fun way to support these communities is simply to visit.
And you can bring the kids! There are plenty of alcohol-free activities in the area – starting with hiking, biking, and exploring the picturesque winding roads by car. This area is undeniably beautiful in all four seasons.
Sonoma and Napa counties are a foodie’s paradise. Nationally recognized chefs operate amazing restaurants with ‘organic & local’ and ‘farm to table’ the common thread on menus. Highly coveted Michelin Stars have been awarded to at least 3 restaurants in Sonoma County and 7 restaurants in Napa Valley.
Dean & Deluca is a delightful gourmet store, while Model Bakery sells the perfect English Muffin praised by Oprah (best hot with jam). Order a delicious sandwich for a picnic from Dry Creek General Store.
My favorite secret not-so-secret eatery is The Fremont Diner outside the town of Sonoma – oh, the decor and those biscuits!
Then in early autumn, visit Grgich Wine Estate for a grape stomp.
Olive trees are abundant in this Mediterranean climate, and their bounty is being harvested now. Round Pond Estate offers olive oil & vinegar tastings, demonstrations, and themed experiences.
You can see the hills and distant rows are black from the fire but much of this vineyard was saved. Now that we are in the rainy season, green creeps through the scorched earth.
The grass and wildflower seeds that were scattered recently to prevent soil erosion will enhance the breathtaking scenery in the coming months throughout both counties.
So if you’ve had California wine country on your bucket list, now is the perfect time to plan a visit. And you can do it guilt-free in the name of helping rebuild a community.
I’d love to know, what’s a favorite spot you’ve visited in the area?
More To Do: A Weekend In Napa Valley