Road to recovery: Wine country after wildfires


NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – The scope of the destruction from the latest wildfire to ravage Napa and Sonoma counties is hard to comprehend.

Recovery is underway, but because of the pandemic, it looks different than in the past. Travel enthusiast Dana Rebmann joins us to discuss.

If Sonoma and Napa counties have proven anything in recent years, it’s that they are resilient.

Wine country is beginning yet another recovery process. But just like everything else in our lives right now, this recovery has to happen differently.

Wineries are open and working tirelessly to safely welcome guests that are starting to travel again. So many properties, like Flowers Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg, have always boasted beautiful outdoor tasting settings.

At Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, their tasting bar is outdoors year round.

If you’re going to make the trip to wine country, the key is planning, and making reservations. Walk-in appointments are limited.

But if you’re not comfortable coming to wine country, there are still many ways you can help in the recovery process.

Folks are very accustomed to receiving wine shipments by mail. That’s certainly not new. But wineries are getting creative. It’s not just about getting a bottle of wine in a box anymore.

They’re working hard to make deliveries an experience. St. Helena’s Raymond Vineyards now offers a kit where you can be a winemaker for a day, in your own home.

Along with four bottles of blending wine, you’ll get graduated cylinders, pipettes, and blending worksheets. ($200 including shipping)

Along with wine, Clif Family produces organic, artisan food in addition to those well-known Clif Bars. They’ve put together a number of kits that focus on everything from a wedding gift set, to a pantry starter, to a backyard barbecue kit.

In some cases, there are virtual tasting aspects for folks who are interested. (Clif Outdoor Couture shown, $150 + shipping)

Winemakers aren’t the only ones getting creative. Young & Yonder Spirits is an artisan craft distillery located in downtown Healdsburg.

When the pandemic began, they were one of a group of local distilleries that kept hand sanitizer available in the community. Until they can reopen their tasting room, they’re creating “Cocktail of the Month” cocktail kits.

You get everything you’ll need, from gin, lime juice and simple syrup, to those finishing touches like dehydrated lime and lemon wheel garnishes. Each kit includes everything you need to make 8 cocktails. ($65)

Kits can be shipped or picked up in the tasting room.

This is the time of year when wine country would be buzzing with harvest dinners and parties. At J Vineyards & Winery, instead of cancelling their Eastside Knoll Dinner, they figured out a way to do the next best thing.

Their chef created a three-course dinner. Everything was prepared. You just had to pick it up, heat it up at home and enjoy it with the three bottles of wine that were part of the dinner kit.

Dishes included cauliflower soup with butter poached lobster, short ribs with a squash purée and kale chips, and for dessert, cheesecake with Black Mission figs. But the instructions were simple and clear. There were even pictures of how to plate the dishes.

For an hour during dinner, diners connected virtually with the winemaker and chef to chat about what they were eating and drinking.

Was it the same as eating at the winery? No. Was it an entertaining evening? Absolutely. ($315 dinner for two with three bottles of wine. Wine alone is valued at or above $200)

If you’d like to learn more about how you can help, check out the following links:

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