By this time, most of us have seen photographs of the devastation caused by recent California wildfires. I initially felt inclined to post a photo of our intact winery and vineyard with the backdrop of a hazy sky, demonstrating Napa’s progress back to a smoke-free landscape, announcing, “We gratefully survived!”
Instead, I opted for a photo of new life – the newest family member, sporting a HOUYI Vineyard cap. These fires crystallized the preciousness of life and the vital good will of people. As the Atlas fire crept closer and closer, our anxiety was only eased by returning to the thought that our evacuated families and colleagues were safe. We felt resolved that the vineyard and winery could burn, as long as our team was out of harm’s way. As days passed and the fire inched nearer, it became the close communication and team effort with our Pritchard Hill neighbors for saving structures from flames, sharing resources and relating intel, that fortified our spirits.
Random acts of kindness – from the discount I received from my local NYC hardware store on the purchase of N95 respirator masks in solidarity with those suffering loss, to the understanding of law enforcement, who allowed us to enter the evacuation zone to refuel our backup generator – all contributed to a general feeling of community and the impactful significance of it, whether logistical or emotional in nature.
It is easy to get swept up in the romanticism of wine country – the breathtaking landscapes, the glossy lifestyle, the luxury product – but what is most authentic and most exceptional about our region is in fact, the people that make the term, “community,” a relevant and participatory act across multiple generations. In the aftermath of the fires, I better understand that we in the wine business are here to nurture Mother Nature’s best assets until the next generation is able. If She has other plans for those physical assets, it is the spirit of community and care-taking of each other that is nurtured from one generation to the next.