If you have been paying attention to the news, you most likely have heard about the wildfires affecting Northern California. Beginning in the middle of the night on Sunday, October 8, the fires raged for what seemed like an eternity, burning tens of thousands of acres and completely destroying homes, businesses, and entire neighborhoods. My own home was threatened by the Atlas fire, one of the largest of the multiple fires in the area.
By now, a majority of the fires are contained and under control. (If you’d like to stay updated, here is the current information from Cal Fire.) People within the communities of Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa and more, have all been shown that tragedy truly does bring a community together in solidarity. But there is only so much that the locals can do when our cities depend on tourism and visitors to wineries, restaurants, and hotels.
One of the best things anyone could do to help the wine country is to visit. It may seem inappropriate after such a disaster, yet tourism is what keeps our valleys running. Especially in the slower winter months that follow harvest time. Everyone, from waiters in the restaurants to the wineries’ tasting room staff, could use the extra income during this time. So if you have ever thought about visiting the valleys, now is the time to go.
Of course, if you’re a busy person and do not have the time to take a vacation but still want to help, there are many wonderful places that could use donations. There are multiple relief funds set up for the cities of Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa. Other great options are the cities’ food banks, Salvation Army, as well as multiple community centers and churches.
It may take our communities some time to rebuild, but I have never seen so many people come together in support of each other before. Every time I call home, or go on Facebook, I hear about ten new instances of kindness and generosity. My heart aches for those who lost everything, but I know that in the end, we will come out of this stronger and closer than ever before. Because we are wine country strong, and the love in the air is thicker than the smoke.