We’re all suffering in Napa and Sonoma valleys… There are a myriad of reasons; from absorbing toxic ash from “some other place” this time, to having been evacuated and praying for about a week to learn if your home is still standing, to getting home and having some damage, to getting back to an empty lot, or having lost a pet(s), or even people. It’s a fire war zone, in the middle of a virus war zone, and we need to elect a leader to see if we really are a free people zone.

It’s a painful stage, but we’re also finding little joys along the way, we have to. Californians are somewhat resilient. And, our firefighters have a passion beyond comprehension. Actually, they all do, too. They come from everywhere around the globe to experience it. I’ve been able to chat with them in my neighborhood (past fires), and they’re the best people ever, considering their enemy. Think about it.

[PHOTO: Stock that I purchased. All rights reserved.]

So, the News from Aratas Wine of Napa Valley

September 30, 2020

Calistoga, Napa Valley

To our friends in wine,

Thank you for the outpouring of love and support. Your messages and notes of encouragement are meaningful during this extraordinarily difficult time. This year has brought us unfathomable challenges. Tuesday, in the wee hours of the morning, our home, a cedar shake bungalow nestled among old oaks in a quiet box canyon, burned to the ground along with every home in our community. Sixteen years of life in the vines reduced to a pile of ash in just an instant. We are utterly devastated.

The Glass Fire ignited on Sunday morning in the thick woods off Crystal Springs Road a couple miles down the valley. It burst open and spread from 20 to 2500 acres in moments engulfing Rattlesnake Ridge directly above us. How aptly named as we’ve had a few close calls with our unpredictable neighbors over the years. The irony is cruel. Cal Fire’s brave, but battle-weary firefighters fought relentlessly for 24 hours while “Big Bertha” the starship 747 super fighter dropped retardant from overhead. Those golden hills draped in drought-stricken vegetation have been here before. The fires of 2017 still burn in our memory. This time, the intolerable heat and erratic winds were too much to harness, with the windswept the monster over the ridge, just before dawn. The battle was over.

I weep trying to find the words. Winemaker Matt’s family has been evacuated along with 80,000 other neighbors all waiting to know if their lives have been forever changed. The smoke and ash are overwhelming. We watch…and wait for an end to the carnage but the situation is dire. Over 48,000 acres of pristine old oak and redwood forest, historic wineries, homes, and schools are under siege at this very moment. It’s burning virgin land, never before threatened by fire.

The Land Trust of Napa was the first private land conservancy in the US (est.1976). Through its conservancy, 15 percent of all the land in Napa County; pristine wilderness and heartwood, has been voluntarily protected from development for future generations, to cherish as we do. It is all at risk and suffering along with the devastation of an agricultural community, which thrives by growing grapes. The Glass Fire and Shady Fire are still raging beyond comprehension. Everyone in wine country desperately needs your support and encouragement.

I hope those of you who visited us in the “treehouse” will cherish your memories as much as we do. So many of our very best of times started with a visitor and the pop of a cork. It’s what drives us and Aratas Wine.

So here we are. While the good news is our winery is fine for the moment and our fermented wine is resting safely in the cellar. Regretfully,  much of the 2020 grapes succumbed to smoke taint during the massive LNU fire just a couple weeks ago. It’s a one-two punch to the gut. So this year, our new baby, a lone Sauvignon Blanc, will carry the flag for Aratas Wine. It’s a lovely, elegant wine, harvested in the nick of time and we look forward to introducing it to your world. Our fall release event in Virginia, scheduled for Sunday, October 18, will go on as planned. We hope our east coast friends will join us for a night of hope and a positive spirit.

Thank you for supporting our restaurants, heavily weighted down by the COVID climate, and for choosing our wines for your table. Recently, we’d received exciting news we’ve been eager to share, but it will wait. We hope you are in good health and in a good place. We can’t imagine what else could be lurking behind the next corner, so now might be the time to drink your best wines first. I imagine you have felt defeated at one time or another this year, while grappling with the cloud of COVID. We are in it with you and hope a glass of fine wine shared with a friend might make it a little better. They say we’ll get through this…

With our gratitude and a heavy heart,

Stephanie Douglas

Please visit our website or social media outlets for more information, release event tickets, or to stock your cellar with our newly released wines. We appreciate your support more than you know.  www.AratasWine.com ~ www.NapaLandTrust.org