The Smoke Clears In Sonoma and Napa, One Month Later

November 2017

By now most have heard about the wildfires in Sonoma and Napa Counties. Having spent the last two decades traversing throughout wine country helping clients buy and sell their properties it was very difficult to watch the flames in the distance.   Several wineries were heavily impacted and some vineyards were also damaged but overall the wine industry sustained relatively minimal impact. More importantly our thoughts go out to those that lost their homes.

Sonoma Napa Wildfire Smoke Vineyard

Sonoma Napa Wildfire Smoke Vineyard

A month later winter rains have arrived and the golden hills are already starting to sprout green growth. It won’t be long before the areas charred by the fires start to show new life as well. Keep in mind the vast majority of Sonoma and Napa region was not impacted. While many questions remain, one thing is certain wine country is still an amazing place to live. Here are some recent queries.

Are vineyards on sale now?

Not long after the last fire was put out I had a query from abroad looking for discounted Napa vineyards. Had to bite my lip when I heard that one but the short story is… not going to happen.

How much more is my vineyard worth?

Also had a conversation with a vineyard owner asking how much more his vineyard is worth. He mentioned that 1,000 – 1,500 acres of vineyard had been impacted. I also saw a news story referencing a map that showed approximately 1,000 acres of vineyard within a burn map. Short answer, I don’t think the values changed much if any. See more below.

Vineyards don’t make good kindling

For the most part vineyards don’t burn. Yes, there were some vineyards that were completely demolished but not many. Vineyards essentially double as a firebreak due to the irrigation of the vines and lack of combustible fuel as a result of the maintenance of the rows and alleys. It is not uncommon to see a fire burn up to the edge of a vineyard and stop. My take is that the actual acreage of vineyard burned is much less than the 1,000 – 1,500 acres mentioned above, a small fraction of total vineyards planted in Sonoma and Napa.

Sonoma Napa Vineyard Firebreak

Sonoma Napa Vineyard Firebreak

Looking Forward

The community has already done an amazing job coming together to support those who were impacted and to help rebuild their lives. Likewise it won’t be long before burned undergrowth is replaced by new plants. Come springtime there will be a dramatic difference. In some ways this new growth will be a precursor to what the region will experience as areas start to rebuild. This will create opportunities and an influx of economic activity in the region. My feeling is that wine country will come back stronger than before. To be certain one thing has not changed, wine country is a beautiful place to live. My suggestion is to plan a visit and come see it in person.


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