“Wine Country” Is Not On Fire — A Message To The Media

If I didn’t know better, I’d assume the entirety of Northern California “Wine Country” was on fire.

But I do know better. And so should the media.

I’m not the most obsessive stickler for accuracy. However, when I constantly hear the media inform the world that “Fires Burn California Wine Country” I cringe at its severe inaccuracy. It’s a bit like claiming that “snow comes to California” when in fact there is only snow on the mountain peaks. It’s not untrue. But it’s pretty damned imprecise.

“California Wine Country” is a fairly vast region. It includes Mendocino County, which is divided between inland and coastal regions. “California Wine Country” includes Sonoma County, where you have the Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Bennett Valley, and Sonoma Valley—none of which are on fire. It includes Napa Valley, which has been spared any fires. It includes Lake County and more.

The point, of course, is that it scares the shit out of anyone who has any reason to come to “California Wine Country” that in turn hurts wine country by causing a severe decrease in visitors to Wine Country and sales of wines—activities that give hundreds of thousands of folks a living.

Slightly more accurate accounts of what is happening in my former home by the media would be appreciated. “Fires in parts of Sonoma County” would work. “The fires in Northern Sonoma County” would be accurate. But claiming that “Wine Country is on fire” is a bit like taking a big red brush and placing an “X” over the entirety of everything north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s irresponsible and largely inaccurate.

On a personal note, it’s very difficult to sit up in our new perch here in the Willamette Valley and watch our friends and former home deal with the impact of this emergency and not be able to do much to help. I can’t tell you how many friends have called and emailed and texted and asked, “aren’t you glad you are gone”? We are not glad we are gone. We are happy where we are. There is a difference. That said, there is a sense of selfish relief that is hard to deny.



6 Responses

  1. Judd Wallenbrock - October 28, 2019

    Thanks for this, Tom. We are well in ‘Wine Country’, and most certainly open for business in Napa. We’re still picking grapes, making wine, tasting with guests, and the restaurants are open. Thanks for helping us spread the positive word – but even if you aren’t planning on coming to the area, go on line and buy! Pumping up the economy however you can is recommended. North Sonoma County is hit pretty hard — buy their wines, give them as gifts, then buy more! Then plan your trip to visit soon — we’d love to see you!

  2. Tom Wark - October 28, 2019

    Judd: YES!!! Stay safe.

  3. Rob McMillan - October 28, 2019

    It’s a mixed message for sure. Sonoma has a terrible burden to deal with for the moment with power outages and some small portion of hi-end grapes still out. With the mandatory evacuations, hospitality is hard to fathom there.

    Napa on the other hand has crystal clear skies today and there are some late grapes still coming in. We haven’t had any smoke yet. But for now, hospitality is difficult here as well, given all the hospitality employees who live in Sonoma. And, truth be told, we need to get through this fire first, get through the smoke which at some point will blanket Napa and the bay area and be another story crossing the news.

    It’s just a sad reality that we are all hurt during these events. But one thing that always warms my soul is seeing the amount of neighbor to neighbor concern at times like these. It’s that kind of thing that makes our community stronger. We will get though this one too!

  4. Tom Orsat - October 28, 2019

    You’re correct Tom. Just because you stub your tow doesn’t mean your entire body is in critical condition. But my thoughts and prayers go out to those enduring this mess. Those at Field Stone, and I specifically want to wish my best to the Wilson family that lost the Soda Rock winery last night. Ken and Diane have spent years and hard work rehabilitating a century old historic site into a beautiful winery, just to see it go up in flames in such a short time after opening it. Be strong out there and you’ll survive and prosper.

  5. Helene - October 28, 2019

    Always very sad when ao-called ‘natural events’ take away house and living, however small or large. But too much of the media-welcome to my world also-like to print sensationalist stories because those types of stories receive ‘hits’ or even sell newspapers. Always did, probably always will.

    Try a good Book, instead? William Blake (on at the Tate Britain currently) and his ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’ in facsimile might be a calming way to proceed. Certainly many of his paintings/illustrations/engravings and poems are not very threatening.

    V best wishes to all affected by the fires.

  6. 20bet - September 11, 2023

    Your article gave me a lot of inspiration, I hope you can explain your point of view in more detail, because I have some doubts, thank you.

Leave a Reply