Barrow Lane, Napa Napa Valley (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Blackened hills singe the edges of Napa’s vineyards, east of the Silverado Trail, though the vineyards themselves remain green and gold.

That’s the story of this past month’s wine country fires. Though devastating (41 dead, 220,000 acres and 2,800 homes destroyed), the fires have not broken Napa, Sonoma or Mendocino counties.

Their spirits are strong and ebullient, their wineries largely untouched, their towns as enticing, and their landscapes as beautiful as ever. In two words, “GO NOW!”

Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker at Chimney Rock (untouched by fire that licked at its property line) said, “Vineyards have so much water in them, that they’re almost like a fire break.” That quality protected the vines, though a few wineries, particularly in eastern Napa Valley received significant damage.

Most visitors to the Napa Valley would never notice it, however. Even the blackened hills (seen above) are not that different to the eye than the normally dark foliage of oaks and brush.

#NapaStrong (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

What is evident throughout the wine country are the number of signs thanking first responders for saving homes and neighborhoods. Heroic stands occurred that spared many neighborhoods, businesses and wineries. Click images to enlarge.

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Today, Canada geese flew low over Napa vineyards, calling to one another. Brightly colored hot air balloons floated slowly in the crisp morning air and people returned to the wine country’s great art galleries, restaurants and tasting rooms.

Acacia Rd., Far Niente (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Fall color has returned to the Napa Valley, as well. Car enthusiasts took pictures of their classic rides on narrow boulevards lined with peaking gingko biloba and vines were showing bright red, yellow and lime, though the vineyards remain mostly patchy. Peak color will continue to appear through Thanksgiving Day in the wine country.

Napa Valley – Near Peak (50-75%) – GO NOW!

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Calistoga, Napa Valley (11/4/17) Darrell Sano

Calistoga, Napa Valley (11/4/17) Darrell Sano

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Paradigm Winery, Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Hawthorne, Acacia Rd., Oakville, Napa Valley (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Far Niente, Oakville Grade (11/5/17) John Poimiroo