Armida Winery in Sonoma County. This photo was taken by Mariah Harkey AFTER 10 October 2017.
Following the devastating wildfires that ravaged Sonama County in early October 2017, the county is throwing down the welcome mat, encouraging visitors to visit and take advantage of everything that this very special place has to offer.
A series of wildfires ravaged a massive section of Northern California from 7 to 14 October 2017. Six counties were affected: Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma.
Shortly after breaking out on 8 and 9 October, the fires spread quickly through a large swatch of Northern California. Smoke from the fires affected an even larger region, causing flight delays and cancellations at San Francisco International Airport.
By 14 October, fires had burned more than 210,000 acres, or 85,000 hectares, and destroyed roughly 5,700 structures.
About 90, 000 people had to evacuate their homes. At least 42 people were killed, and at least 185 people had to be hospitalized. There are no figures for pets, farm animals, or wildlife.
It was the worst fire in California recorded history. The long term economic impact of the conflagration will be immense.
One of the saddest things about a tragedy like this is that the television images broadcast around the world tend to scare potential tourists off.
In situations like this, the media tends to focus on the worst hit areas, ignoring those areas that are not affected.
And that is the last thing the people of Sonoma County need right now.
While large areas of Sonoma County were devastated, other areas were virtually untouched – especially the north, which is home to rolling hills and small fertile valleys, premium wineries, and the towns of Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, and Geyserville.
In addition to world-class wineries, there are omantic inns, world-class resorts, spas, wineries, amazing restaurants – the list goes on.
“We invite you to come see us.” says Tim Zahner, interim CEO.
“Come help us recover from the recent wildfires by allowing us to delight you with world-class hospitality, awe-inspiring views, and sensory experiences unlike any other. It’s what we do best.”
To convince potential tourists that they should not cancel visits, tourism officials had photos taken after the fires were extinguished to demonstrate that for most of the county, it is still business as usual.
All but two of the following photos were taken AFTER the fires. The only exceptions are the first (of the coast) and the last (of the Golden Gate Bridge).
Why Sonoma County Should Be on Your Bucket List
1. SPECTACULAR SCENERY - You can cruise along Highway One, with its 50 mile-plus stretch of spectacular Pacific Coast scenery. Pictured: the view overlooking Goat Rock Beach in Sonoma County, California.
2. QUAINT ARCHITECTURE - Picturesque cities and towns such as Cloverdale, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rose, Sonoma, and Windsor dot Sonoma County. Pictured: Petaluma, California. This photo was taken after 10 October 2017.
3. SOARING REDWOODS - There are spectacular redwood forests. Pictured: Armstrong Redwood State Natural Preserve in Guerneville, California This photo was taken after 10 October 2017.
4. WORLD CLASS CUISINE - From Mexican to Thai and California, there are fabulous restaurants and cafes catering to every taste and preference. Best of all, most of the produce is sourced from nearby farms and vintners! Pictured: El Palomar, a Mexican restaurant in Santa Rosa, California. This photo was taken by Maria Hark after 10 October 2017.
5. WORLD CLASS WINE - Sonoma County is home to more than 425 wineries with many of them producing world-class wines. Pictured: the view from the tasting room at Korbel Winery. This photo was taken after 10 October 2017.
6. FARM TO TABLE - Much of the food sold at markets and served at restaurants is sourced from farms located within Sonoma County, which is home to more than 100 organic farms. Long before "farm to table" became a global trend, it was a way of life in this part of California. Pictured: Hales Apple Farm. This photo was taken after 10 October 2017.
7. ACCOMMODATION - There are quaint hotels, romantic inns, charming bed-and-breakfasts, and sybaritic spas. Pictured: a hotel in the town of Petaluma, California. This photo was taken after 10 October 2017.
8. ART - Sonoma Country attracts more than foodies. It is also a magnet for artists and writers. As a result, there is a thriving arts community. Pictured: an arts and crafts boutique in the town of Sonama, California. This photo was taken after 10 October 2017.
HISTORY - From its colonization by Spain to the Gold Rush of 1849, California has a colourful history. Pictured: the Mission San Francisco Solano, which was the northernmost mission along the Camino Real in Alta California. It is located in the town of Sonoma, California. This photo was taken after 10 October 2017.
THE GOLDEN GATE - Sonoma County is located just 30 miles north of San Francisco, and to get there, you have to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, which is arguably the world's most awe-inspiring span. Believe me, it's worth the trip just to drive across this bridge - preferably with the top down! This photo was taken by Eneas de Troya of Mexico City.