After the earthquake: Napa and Sonoma are open for business and handicap accessible

On August 24, 2014 at 3:20 a.m., the 6.0 South Napa earthquake hit.  We rattled and rolled and a lot of damage was done, but we’re back on our feet and open for business.  We’re also handicap accessible.  This post is a general overview, to be followed by specific accessibility and open for business reviews of tourism spots.


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A bit of clarity about Sonoma/Napa Wine Country.  Napa is a city, that is part of Napa Valley, that is part of Napa County.  Sonoma is a city, that is part of the Sonoma Valley, that is part of Sonoma County.   The Sonoma Valley borders the Napa Valley, and those two great and beautiful valleys are the heart and soul of Wine Country.

The city of Napa had the most damage, to commercial buildings, homes, wine barrels and bottles, merchandise, and home furnishings.  The rest of the Napa Valley had less damage and was able to recover within days.  Sonoma Valley and County had minimal damage.

I live in Sonoma.  The minimal damage that we experienced in the town, valley, and county is already imperceptible.  We are open for business.

As of today I have made the 20 minute drive to Napa 4 times to observe the damage, rebuilding, and status of tourism businesses.  There is still work to do in downtown Napa, but for the majority of tourism businesses Napa is open for business.  Tourists and locals alike should not be concerned about coming to visit, even those with mobility challenges.

Sean and Jeanne on the Napa River

Sean McQueen, an actor from San Francisco, came to explore Napa (the city) with me.  Sean had been living with Chip and me for 5 weeks, as an equity performer in our community theater.  With only 1 week left until the play ended and Sean returned home, coming to Napa was a great last hurrah.

Downtown Napa runs along the Napa River, making a beautiful backdrop.  In recent years Napa has experienced a tremendous renaissance, with historic buildings being renovated, new buildings being built in a historic style, and the Napa River flood project resulting in this gorgeous River Walk.



The Napa River is on the back side of the shops and restaurants, and Main Street is on the front side.  This section is new construction, experienced minimal damage, and for the most part achieves handicap accessibility.  Helen Lyall is a locally owned business with beautiful women’s apparel.  Watch for a complete review in a future blog post.



Local designer, Thomas Bartlett just opened in January of 2014, featuring art and interior design treasures .  The building had minimal damage, though much of the merchandise was shattered.  Today the merchandise is restocked and open for business.  Look at that beautiful accessible entrance with wide doors and a flush threshold.  Watch for a detailed blog posting.






Thursday, September 18, First Street was still barricaded with cones.


First Street in NapaOne week later, Thursday September 25, the cones were gone.  Watch for accessibility reviews of Vermeil Wines and Lucero Olive Oil.  Both shops have very tempting merchandise.


Napa Valley Opera House

The Napa Valley Opera House is the grand dame of Downtown Napa.  Completed in 1879 it was a vital part of downtown until it closed in 1914 due to the new movie theater in town.  It remained closed for almost 90 years.  In the early 1970’s efforts were started to renovate and save it from the wrecking ball.  After years of fundraising and retrofitting The Napa Valley Opera House reopened in 2002.  The earthquake retrofitting paid off as the South Napa Earthquake did minimal damage, and it is open for business and fully handicap accessible.

There is more!  I will add to this post over the next several days.  In the meantime, know that Napa, Napa Valley, and Napa County, as well as Sonoma, Sonoma Valley, and Sonoma County are ready for business, just 1 month after the earthquake.  And handicap accessible.



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