Napa Valley wineries reopen after losing millions in revenue amid pandemic, wildfires

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- The current winter storm, even with concerns of flash flooding, isn't enough to put the brakes on reopening at V. Sattui Winery in Saint Helena.

"Oh man! What a year this has been! From the pandemic and fires, and now for the third shut down, we are finally, finally open for tasting. And then what happens? The skies open up and we get the rain," says Tom Davies with a big laugh. He is President of V. Sattui Winery.

Reopening is critical says Davies, since so many wineries are so dependent on visitors for bulk of their business.

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"We are 100% direct to consumer," explains Davies. "Visitors coming, enjoying our wine, enjoying the Napa Valley, it's so important to our livelihoods."

Davies says online orders are up almost 200% since the start of the pandemic, but that's still not enough to offset the losses, such as from revenue from events, which is about 75% of their business.

Davies says they had to cancel 60 weddings due to the pandemic, and suffered millions of dollars in losses due to crop that were ruined by the wildfires.

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California fires often strike later in the fall, after much of the grape harvest, which is at its height in August and September. But with earlier fires this year, wineries now have to deal with smoke tainted grapes.

"When we can't have people coming to taste our wines, have picnics on our grounds, it's devastating," he says.

A few miles down the road is St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery, they are getting ready for a big reopening on Friday.

CEO Emma Swain says safety protocols are in place, and they are happy to get staff back to work.

"We want to be back in business," says Swain. "We are a year in, and we are all ready to have a little fun. And we know we need to do it safely."

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