Livermore wineries report bump in business after North Bay wildfires

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- In the month since the Sonoma and Napa fires cut into business at many North Bay wineries, another part of the bay area has seen an uptick in wine related business.

In Livermore, wineries are reporting a 20 percent bump up in customers, not just in the immediate aftermath of the fires but a sustained increase.

"There might be a change over all in the perception about this area as a result of something terrible," said Steve Burman, co-owner of 3 Steves Winery.

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Burman says the phone rang off the hook at his boutique winery during the first two weeks of the North Bay fires, with people substituting in Livermore wineries for their planned corporate and personal events.

And the increase in traffic isn't letting up.

"It's the time of year with the holidays coming, people come in from out of town," Burman said, "a lot of them wine club members, a lot of them people we've seen before and a lot of them people we haven't seen before. "

During the fires, cruise ships also diverted passengers to Livermore Valley wine tours.

"The contractors I worked with that do the shore excursions were very pleased," said Bay Area tour guide Evonne Hopkins. "The biggest thing I heard from them is this wine country bends over backwards to help them out. "

Chris Chandler with the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association noted that Grey Line tours is also exploring adding the areas as a regular option to offer guests.

"I don't think it's a replacement of groups going to Napa and Sonoma. My conversation with the various tour groups is that it's in addition to Napa and Sonoma," Chandler said.

Livermore wineries also say they are seeing more out of state tour groups, along with more northern California day trippers. They hope it continues.

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