Officials ride Napa Valley Wine Train to spur tourism

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- There's some good news from Napa County - Cal Fire reports 93 percent containment now on fires that destroyed some 1,200 buildings and burned 56,000 acres.

That's the reality. Now, to a problem with perception.

The Napa Valley Wine Train is an epicurean delight that's become a major tourist attraction in the past quarter century. But note the empty seats.

"We're down about 75 percent over a typical October," said Scott Goldie, president of Napa Valley Wine Train

Blame the wildfires of two weeks ago.

The dangers from them have passed, but tourists have not returned to the region.

BEFORE AND AFTER: North Bay neighborhoods devastated by wildfires

At Linda Cordair's art gallery, it's downright lonely.

"Business is definitely down because unfortunately the perception is they think we all burned up in Napa," she said. "The fact is we're more untouched than touched."

See those blue skies? That clean air? In a bid to get the message out, the wine train filled some of those empty seats with elected officials on Thursday. Call it a whistle stop, ad-hoc press conference.

We asked Napa Mayor Jill Techel about the difference between recovering from a fire versus an earthquake.

"Well the earthquake was more repair," she said. "And the fire is more start over."

But not in the towns of this valley. That came as a relief to Angie and Ronald Brookshire of San Diego. They booked a birthday celebration vacation two months ago. She admits to having been worried.

"I just didn't want to come here when there was devastation and people lost homes," said Angie. "Then we got to thinking about it and we went through this, we live in San Diego, so we've been through this."

TAKE ACTION: How you can help North Bay fire victims

Based on that, they know the importance of supporting economies recovering from tragedies.

"Only way I'd cancel is if it was closed where we could not get in," said Ronald. "

Three years ago, an earthquake. Now, the fires. In the Napa Valley, there's a continuing theme.

"We were so prepared for the recovery efforts that needed to happen because of having the earthquakes," said Techel.

Click here for full coverage on the North Bay fire and click here for full coverage on the South Napa Earthquake.
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