Business as usual in wine country amid worsening coronavirus fears
ST. HELENA, Calif. - The Napa and Sonoma Valleys are among perhaps the biggest wedding capitals in the U.S.
But not even coronavirus has been able to put a damper on that, at least not yet.
"So far so good," says John Winkelhaus, executive vice president of V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena.
The winery has booked 60 weddings between April and October this year. Three brides and grooms have moved their wedding dates to later in the season, but none have canceled. The first one is in late April.
Event planners at Milestone in Sonoma County also say all their weddings are still on. But they are talking to their clients about coronavirus.
"We are still letting people know they should anticipate a reduction in head count, not necessarily significant but there could be one. And that all the vendors are working together to make sure things will be properly sanitized," says Marshall Bauer, founder of Milestone.
While people are still booking weddings around here, the wineries are seeing a huge drop off in another area, corporate events.
"The April events, the May events are golng away. They're looking at August, September, October, Novovember to reschedule," says Bauer.
"The corporate events are saying we just are prevented from traveling. Most are corporate directives," says Winkelhaus.
The financial effects in the area are serious, one caterer alone reports losing $400,000 in canceled corporate business. Not to mention losses at hotels and restaurants, and potentially jobs too.
Still life does go on. The Coronavirus is not keeping some people from the tasting rooms.
"I'm definitely not changing my life. I came here to wine taste. And I had a great time," said DaVina Teasley of Richmond.
A region that has seen its share of wildfires, floods and drought now faces a pandemic that's painting an increasingly uncertain picture by the day.