It's been more than a week since fires devastated much of the landscape in California wine country, and already news organizations have shifted to new tragedies. But it's more than ashes that wine producers have to contend with.
Hotels and other tourism-related businesses are reporting massive cancellations in Napa and Sonoma while areas like Paso Robles are showing massive increases as visitors shift their plans. I suspect the Willamette Valley also will show an increase in visitors.
Most of the changes are being made without a good grasp of what is happening on the ground. For the record, out of the 1,200 wineries in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties, only 10 have reported damage. The high moisture content of vineyards spared many of them still bearing fruit. However, 90 percent of the grapes had been picked by the time the fires arrived. The prized cabernet sauvignon still on the vines have thick skins and may not reflect smoke taint -- but even so producers will test the juice and decide whether it is worth bottling.
The bottom line is that California wine country is still worth the visit. The wine you'll be drinking in the tasting rooms won't be from this year's harvest anyway. And isn't the wine the goal of your visit?