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Sonoma State Survey Shows Tourism Returning After Wine Country Fires

January 25, 2018

The biggest effects from last year’s wine country wildfires were to the area’s tourism industry, not its vineyards, according to a study released by the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. The WBI surveyed over 200 vineyards and wineries to determine the impact of the fires and found that 99.8% of vineyard acres were undamaged and 93% of wineries reported no structural damage.

While few vineyards and wineries were damaged by fire, many companies suffered financially as winery traffic and tasting room sales dropped for 71% and 62% of respondents, respectively. “The most significant impact on the North Coast wine industry was an immediate and temporary slow-down of visitors to the region,” said Honore Comfort, wine business executive in residence at WBI. “We believe this was driven by images and reports at the height of the disaster.”

Though visitors to the region dropped, 75% of wineries indicated that online sales held steady or grew during the period of reduced foot traffic following the fires. Wineries reported that the downturn had reversed by November, with “visitor numbers returning to or exceeding prior year numbers for the same period.” —Shane English

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