Visit Napa Valley
Visit Napa Valley

Wildfire Toolkit

Visitor Impact of California's "Fire Season"
June - November

 

During the months of June through November, California typically experiences low humidity levels and warm weather, creating dry conditions. Previously, we used ‘dry season’ to indicate fires were not inevitable this time of year. However, as California has been impacted annually, Visit California has decided to fully embrace what Gov. Newsom, Gov. Brown and Gov. Schwarzenegger have been telling Californians for almost two decades: We can’t outrun climate change. It manifests itself in a variety of ways, including what has become an annual spate of destructive wildfires. National and global media are routinely referring to “California’s fire season,” and if we are going to be taken seriously we must communicate within that framework.

As a safety precaution for residents and visitors, on extremely warm, windy days, primarily when official weather centers issue a Red Flag Warning, public utilities may issue temporary Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) to lower the likelihood of power lines sparking a fire.

Below please find key resources and facts; PG&E updates; suggested consumer messaging and talking points; suggested “Best Practices;” and reference articles to help counter negative consumer perception of visiting the Napa Valley in the summer and fall seasons due to the potential impact of wildfires, smoke, and possible Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). We will keep this information updated as incidents and/or new information arise.

It is important to plan ahead and keep employees and guests informed. Should Napa Valley be directly impacted, our goal is to ensure the tourism industry is primed for action.

 

October 13, 2020

Talking Points
  • See Also — California Wildfires Talking Points
  • The Glass Incident fire is nearly 100% contained, affecting rural mountainous areas in the north section of Napa County.
  • We are grateful for Cal Fire and first responders for their ongoing efforts.
  • Air quality is improved, and the Napa Valley is open and welcoming visitors.
  • If you have plans to travel to Napa Valley in the immediate future, we encourage you to confirm reservations directly.
  • The health and safety of our neighbors and visitors is our highest concern, and our thoughts are with the families affected, and the emergency response teams who continue to work to keep everyone safe.
  • We understand the visuals shared may have left a lasting impression that much has been destroyed, but a majority of Napa Valley is physically unaffected.
  • Due to Coronavirus health and safety restrictions wineries and restaurants are open for outdoor service only, and varying weather conditions may temporarily impact operations.
  • Each fire incident creates varying circumstances for individual communities, and are not comparable. As a dynamic situation evolves, Visit Napa Valley works closely with Napa County officials in support of their emergency response efforts.
  • Visitor spending in our community supports the livelihoods of residents and small businesses, and visitors are not displacing evacuees.
  • Misinformation is common during a crisis, even photographs and news reports could be misleading and should not be passed on.
 
FAQs

What wineries and hotels have been destroyed? What about Calistoga Ranch, Meadowood, and the Castello di Amorosa?

It is too early to provide a comprehensive update. We defer to individual owners to make specific business information public.

Any loss is heartbreaking, but more than 400 wineries, 90 urban tasting rooms, 150 restaurants, and 130 hotels and small inns, are open ready to welcome you. We are confident visitors will enjoy the Napa Valley for many years to come.

What is the economic impact to the tourism and/or winery industry?

It will be some time before the economic impact of the wildfires in Napa County is known.

The Napa Valley Spirit of collaboration is strong. Many hotels provided discounted rooms for evacuees and restaurants served meals to first responders. Wineries are assisting each other with harvest and donating tasting fees.

If you want to help the people of Napa Valley we encourage donations to the Napa Valley Community Foundation (napavalleycf.org), as well you can purchase Napa Valley wine.

What should visitors know? Should they cancel their trip?

The Napa Valley is open and welcoming visitors. Visitors can confirm immediate travel plans and reservations directly. We understand the visuals shared may have left a lasting impression that much has been destroyed, but a majority of Napa Valley is physically unaffected. While the fire did reach the valley floor in the northern portion of the county, mother nature will heal burned hillsides and vineyards, and our neighbors will rebuild.

Will fires deter future visitation to Napa Valley?

Napa Valley is fortunate to have a strong regional market, with Bay Area residents more geographically knowledgeable, and who make last minute decisions based on current conditions. Visit Napa Valley has always encouraged visitation throughout the year, particularly November through April, or Cabernet Season, as one of the best times to visit Napa Valley. Winter and spring offer a slower pace, green hills and wildflowers, competitive lodging rates and more reservation availability at wineries and restaurants.

Wildfires have happened naturally for centuries, but if they continue to be exacerbated by ongoing issues related to heat and drought, long-term we could foresee visitation more evenly distributed throughout the year. This could be a more sustainable model for our businesses, residents and overall community.

 

Key Facts on PSPS

  • As a safety precaution, on extremely warm, windy days, PG&E's wildfire prevention program could result in local cities and towns in Napa Valley facing possible multi-day power shutoffs. Red Flag Warning
  • Before turning off the power, PG&E, and other California-based utility companies, will provide advance notice by phone, text alerts and emails to prepare residents, businesses and visitors of possible shutdowns as well as provide updates on when power will be restored.
  • The utility companies will also use social media channels to provide updates and share information with local news and radio outlets.

Key PG&E Updates for 2020

  • Adding advanced weather stations to proactively respond to potential fire threats and provide improved awareness of fire danger conditions. Additionally, PG&E is installing additional cameras to enhance real-time monitoring across high fire-risk areas.
  • Conducting safety inspections of more than 15,000 miles of power lines in areas of extreme (Tier 3) and elevated (Tier 2) wildfire risk as defined by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) High-Fire-Threat District map as well as additional miles in non-high fire-threat areas.
  • Improving their infrastructure with stronger poles, covered power lines and targeted undergrounding and installing “sectionalizing” devices and switches to make the grid more flexible during outages.
  • Inspecting vegetation and pruning or removing more than one million trees to maintain clearance from power lines.
  • Improving their PSPS program by making events smaller in size and shorter in length.
  • While PG&E expects to restore power to most customers within 12 daylight hours after extreme weather has passed (a 50% improvement from 2019), it is advised that businesses and consumers prepare for outages that could last multiple days.
  • PG&E customers may update their contact information here:
    My Wildfire Alerts >

Visitor & Customer Talking Points

  • In the summer and early fall, Napa Valley typically experiences low humidity levels and warmer and dryer weather, making it a “dry season.”
  • While California summers can be marked by wildfires, these fires are usually hundreds of miles away from towns and tourism destinations.
  • Though media portrayals of destructive fires are often dramatic, in many cases, active wildfires play little to no part in disrupting a visitor's experience.
  • California is a large state and wildfires in one location typically have no impact outside a limited area.
  • As a safety precaution for residents and visitors, on extremely warm, windy days, public utilities may issue temporary Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) to lower the likelihood of fire caused by power lines.
  • Before turning off power, PG&E will send early-warning notifications (48 hours in advance, when possible) by phone, text alerts, and emails to prepare both residents and visitors of possible shutdowns. Have a backup plan for phone charging.
  • During the 'dry' season, visitors planning a trip anywhere in California may check Visit California's website at VisitCalifornia.com or contact their hotel, as well as check VisitNapaValley.com for all pertinent updates.
  • Anyone sensitive to air quality impacts should consult real-time resources to determine if smoke levels in the state could impact their travel experience.
  • Our first concern is always the safety and well-being of our residents and visitors.

Best Practices

  • Plan ahead for power disruption. Create back-up plans and customer messaging.
  • Consult with your business phone provider to determine how to forward calls in the event of a power outage.
  • Keep visitors/guests informed and updated. Post updates on your homepage, email confirmed guests, and use social media channels answer to some of these common questions:
    • Are you open or closed?
    • Do you have power?
    • Do you have “power outage kits” for guests? (which may include a flashlight or battery powered lantern; glowsticks; and flameless candles)
    • Do you have back-up generators? Share what the guest experience will be if you remain open and welcoming guests.
    • Will refunds be provided to guests who cancel their reservations?
    • If guests choose or need to be relocated due to an extended power outage or safety concern, assist with reservations at another property, or provide a gift certificate for a future stay.
    • How should guests contact you?
  • Your Owned & Earned Channels:
    • Communicate with your customers with accurate and positive outreach. Website, email, and social channels can keep visitors updated on operating hours, as well as current experiences. Avoid details and imagery that perpetuate visitor safety concerns. ie. Raging Flames, Inflammatory Verbiage.
    • Use Social Media as a powerful visual tool to convey real-time conditions.