California Wine Country

Grape Destinations: Napa’s Renaissance after the California Fires

As soon as I boarded the airplane to Newark on my way to San Francisco, I was wondering: How was the Valley after last year’s fires? Some vineyards, houses, and structures were burned. Well, I was coming from the longest hurricane aftermath in Puerto Rico. If we managed, I figured, then California has overcome this. And I was right – the Napa Valley is coming up well and more diversified than ever.

Instead of staying in San Francisco, this time my partner in crime and I decided to stay in a small city hotel in American Canyon for a week, and to look beyond the obvious wine tastings. Don’t get me wrong, we had beautiful wine tastings, but c’mon, there are hidden treasures in the city of Napa.

The small city has a very relaxed environment. Our first stop: downtown, where small shops and businesses are booming. You have everything in walking distance, from boutiques to antiques, wine and food, and specialty stores such as Betty’s Girl, which offers a bridal and couture service by appointment only. The Annex of Antiques on Second, at 1320 Second Street, is what being passionate is all about. Kim at her shop in NapaKim, the owner, is a very meticulous couturier who alters and adapts wedding and special-occasion dresses with quality fabrics and heirlooms from the bride’s family – a great option for brides-to-be to choose a one-of-a-kind dress. Destination wedding, anyone?

If this seems too girly and you’re on Third Street with a craving for some artisan draft beer, go to Billcos at No. 1234. They have an array of beers that you can taste before deciding which one you prefer, from light to dark and every shade in between. If you’re into artisan cider, try them too – but don’t drive; call a cab.

There are some structures such as private houses and the former post office that have the scars of the 6.1 earthquake of 2014. They’re still rebuilding and, sadly for the post office, the building will not be back in service. Look for them, part of modern history!

I was really looking forward to go back to St. Helena, another one of the towns in Napa. So there we went, looking for some distinctive mustard flowers and to see more vineyards getting ready to wake up after the winter.

Flowers were blooming everywhere.

By Amanda Díaz de Hoyo

Photos: Amanda Díaz de Hoyo

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