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October 25, 2017

The Wine Country Wildfires

Smoke from Napa Valley Fire

I recognize that it’s been radio silence around here lately. But I couldn’t help it.

There was the threat of the fires, the Sophie’s Choice of packing “the essentials” in case of evacuation, and the smoke. The incessant, invasive smoke.

I just couldn’t stop thinking about these things, and I retreated into myself.

Smoke Haze Napa

To write about a new restaurant or a winery experience seemed frivolous amongst all the destruction, loss and fear that wine country was going through.

I couldn’t even bring myself to post a photo on Instagram. Because, while I didn’t want to offer even more images of devastation, a breezy, colorful image of Napa seemed crass. What would I say? What would it say about me?

I fled the valley with my family in search of cleaner air and a clearer mind.

Kings Beach Tahoe

Upon our return some days later I was still mourning for friends who’d lost their homes.

The inside of my house reeked of smoke and there was a dusting of ash on the outdoor furniture.

But, the sky was blue.

I realized then that, for many of us in Napa and Sonoma Counties, the fires initiated something akin to a grief response — and my denial and depression were starting to give way to acceptance.

I was beginning to feel hopeful again.

Thank You Firefighters

While I aired out the house, I tried to think of a way to get back on track and support Napa Valley and my community.

What occurred to me seems obvious now, but it was a lightbulb moment for me at the time.

I finally came to understand that the best way I could support wine country was to help mitigate the fear that people may have regarding visiting Napa and Sonoma.

I can continue to show everyone what Napa still has to offer — that many businesses, restaurants and wineries are, for the most part, OPEN FOR BUSINESS. And they are looking forward to seeing visitors again soon.

I will help spread the word that although we may be burned, we are healing, and we are resilient.

It’s going to be a long and slow process, but we’re ready to start looking forward.

Welcome back, Sunshine.

If you want to help victims of the fires, you can:

Donate to the Napa Valley Community Fund
Donate to the North Bay Fire Relief



  1. Lo says:

    Nice Ali. And very happy to provide you and th fam a reprieve from the smoke. Hope rebuilding is going well….and can’t wait to come visit you and Napa/Sonoma!

  2. Caroline Chapman says:

    Well said Ali, it brought a tear and a smile!
    Can’t wait to return to that great beautiful Napa Valley.

  3. Coni Zingarelli says:

    Very thoughtful Alison. For people not familiar with the area it’s helpful to hear the voice of an insider. My heart has been breaking for friends affected by this tragic devastation. I’m glad you are ok.

  4. Glenn says:

    Well done Ali. lots of love. Glenn & Bernadette.

  5. Lynne Beautz says:

    Alison: Wonderful addition to your blog. I am not kidding, it made me cry…so thankful you and many of your friends are safe.

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