Napa Weddings After the Wildfires – How to Plan a Fire Free 2021 or 2022 Napa Wedding
By October, the 2020 wildfire season had already scorched about 4 million acres in California, including land in the state’s premier wedding destination Napa Valley. In what was already a difficult year with coronavirus pandemic forcing many couples to postpone and cancel their weddings, the Glass Fire has spread across 65,000 acres in Napa and Sonoma Valley, damaging and destroying over a thousand residential and commercial structures. At least 19 wineries, restaurants, and resorts have been destroyed by the fires.
According to reporting by Eater San Francisco, the forest has already destroyed the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood and 120,000 bottles were lost Castello di Amarosa. The Napa County Office of Emergency Services reports that there are 64 wineries within the evacuation zone and the following businesses have reported damage
- Behrens Family Winery
- Bremer Family Winery
- Burgess Cellars
- Calistoga Ranch
- Chateau Boswell
- Davis Estates
- Fairwinds Estate Winery
- Hourglass Winery
- Hunnicutt Wines
- Meadowood Resort
- Merus Wines
- Newton Vineyard
- Sherwin Family Vineyards
- Spring Mountain Vineyard
- Sterling Vineyards
- Tofanelli Vineyards
- Tuck Bestoffer Vineyards.
The fire was still burning into the first week of October, so it’s safe to say that many of these businesses will need time to recover and rebuild. The unfathomable extent of the damage includes burnt vineyards, destroyed equipment, and the loss of buildings and grapevines that date back to the 19th century. Despite the amount of destruction, experts in the region predict that businesses will start to bounce back a few months. However, it will likely take longer for wineries and wedding venues that have been completely destroyed by fires to fully rebuild.
Unfortunately, if you are considering a Napa Valley wedding at one of the destroyed venues, you may have to wait until next year or even longer for them to rebuild their buildings and replant the vines.
If you have your heart set on a Napa Valley wedding, now is the time to wait and make a list of some of your top venues to keep an eye on before you make any moves. One easy way to simplify this process is to set up a Google Alert for each venue. This function will notify you should any news stories pop up that mention the resort and you can add specific words like “fire” and “damage.” Although there is a lot of damage, some vineyards are bound to emerge unscathed, but all the grapes in the region are sure to be affected by the wildfire smoke, which could affect the 2020 harvest season and have economical impacts down the line for many Napa businesses.
If you’re not local to Napa Valley, this is a situation where the right wedding planner, if you don’t already have one, can really be worth the money. Especially in a situation like this where you really need to see the place in person to understand the damage, having someone on the ground to visit venues is an invaluable asset. They will be able to not only take photos and report back on what the property looks like, but they can also speak to managers and give you an experienced perspective on which businesses are on the path to recovery.
It’s also important to remember that these wildfires are getting worse every year, which is a result of climate change. In the future, you may want to avoid setting your wedding date during wildfire season, especially during the peak months of August and September. Even if Wine Country is spared from fires as severe as the 2020 Glass Fire in the future, wildfire smoke from other regions can float into the valley from elsewhere. Not only does the smoke create conditions that are completely unphotogenic, by blocking out the sun and any spectacular views, but it can also be toxic. Whenever the Air Quality Index goes above 300, it becomes hazardous, especially for people with respiratory issues.
With this in mind, you should strongly consider wedding insurance, especially if you plan to get married during the wildfire season. Some venues may even require a certificate of insurance in order to have your wedding there. A good insurance plan will cover the costs in case you have to cancel or postpone your event, but you should get on the phone with a representative before committing to which plan to buy. Make sure that wildfires and smoke will be acceptable reasons to postpone your wedding and clarify how far in advance you can do so.
Napa wildfires, and wildfires in general are unpredictable and can spring up and spread overnight. Similarly, there is no set time in which it takes smoke to clear out. Depending on the weather, how much wind and rain the area gets, it could linger for days at very high levels.
Napa Valley’s sunny skies and sprawling vineyards make it an ideal destination for weddings. With many hotels to host your guests and some of the best vintages in the country, this is a classic destination for a reason. It’s also a resilient one and has bounced back from wildfires before.
Realistically though, the 2020 fire season has been relentless and couples may have to wait a long time for Napa to fully heal. Hopefully, by then, we will also have a vaccine so you can invite your full guest list! If you’re willing to wait, do your research, and invest in the right wedding planner and insurance plan, there’s no need to scrap the Napa Valley wedding off your vision board. It’s still doable and when the region comes back, it will make your special day all the more special to know that you made it happen despite it all.
We’ve supported our friends affected by the Napa wildfires. If you’d like to support as well, donations to support the valley’s residents and businesses can be made to the California Fire Foundation and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. You can also support local businesses in the valley by ordering your wine directly from the winery online.
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