Fire impact on wine country tourism

A key segment of the Bay Area economy is being threatened again for the second time over the last several months.

First, it was the coronavirus pandemic and now wildfires are threatening Napa Valley’s wine country.

Vincent Smith, City of Napa Community Development Director, said the hospitality industry's survival depends on being a year-round industry, but that that this time of year is particularly important. 

Smith went on to say that hotels and restaurants were operating at between 20 and 25 percent of capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the hope was that the numbers could rise to 30-to-40 percent into October and November, when there's decent weather for the evening and outdoor dining.

“This fire on Sunday I suspect will have a significant impact on those numbers. I don’t know that we’ll know that for another week or two. Certainly, this weekend will be a good judge of whether folks come and visit, but I think it’s safe to say those numbers will drop off,” he said.

The north part of the valley, Calistoga, Saint Helena, and unincorporated parts of northern Napa county are suffering the most right now and firefighters are working tirelessly to stamp out the flames. But even when that happens, another potential threat looms.

But for Smith, hope isn't lost as crews work with urgency to stop the flames from spreading.

Smith is concerned cooler weather and flu season will impact restaurants negatively.

“The fire will get controlled, the smoke will dissipate. We'll get blue skies again and that takes less time than one thinks it would and still plenty of time for people to come and experience all the wonderful things that the City of Napa and the county of Napa have to offer," Smith said.