I Love You, Napa

It is 7:32pm on Monday night, October 9th, and I am sitting on my balcony, crying.

I am crying because Napa is on fire. It’s on fire, it’s out of control, people are dying, and vineyards are going up in flame. No, I don’t live in Napa, and I don’t own a winery, and I don’t farm the land, but Napa is my community, in every sense of the word. It’s where I work, it’s where I play, it’s where I dream and watch my friends dream, and see the seasons come and go and feel the highest sense of connection to God this side of my family.

And tonight, my community is on fire.

So many times in the last few weeks I’ve watched other people’s communities get devastated from natural disasters. In Houston, in Florida, in Puerto Rico…and every time I’ve thought to myself, “oh, my God, that’s so horrible,” and I’ve sent my thoughts and prayers, because I felt powerless, like that’s the only thing I could do. But now I know what powerless truly means. Now I know what devastation really means. Now I feel it in my soul, feel it burn me, feel it choke me like the smoke that I suck into my lungs from thirty miles away.

My community. My people. My life. This fire is reminding me what Napa really is. It’s not the Disney-esque tourist-bait, the over-priced Cabernets, the ratings, the auctions, the estates and the Michelin stars. It’s farmers. It’s families. It’s tradition and culture and a pedigree that goes back thousands of years and touches the very fabric of our history and society. It’s about the drink we put in our glass to celebrate the most outrageous acts of love, or to toast the people closest to our hearts, or to represent the blood of some guy who was nailed to a cross just for wanting us to love one another.

Yeah. It’s love. That’s what we do. That’s Napa.

This fire will die out, eventually. It will burn out, and like a scar, the ashes will become part of who we are. Part of the land, part of the soil, part of the terroir that defines the character of the wines we create. I take a certain solace in that; in the fact that, like the land we steward, our tragedy will simply become one more of the many facets of our personality. The fire fades, the smoke clears, the rains come, and eventually a small shoot bursts through the ashes, its tiny green leaves bearing a promise of new life, new growth, a new season, a time to every purpose under heaven.

But right now, at 8:32pm on Monday, October 9th, I’m just crying.

Comments 15

  • Simply stunned. Stay safe, friend.

  • I am crying too. All of us in the community of California wine feel the hurt and loss within this community…and we cry too. Hopefully, soon we can do concrete, healing things for this community we love.

  • Beautifully said, my friend. It is so surreal for me to, as you described, hear of this rampant devastation and feel so helpless- to feel so distant from Home. To be so far away now, trying to make roots in another area – but all the while having feelings of a kindred nature for Napa. Napa is where I always used to go when I needed to “make it better” – and that does not refer to a liquid solution. Simply being in the area, soaking in the sights and the ambience, always managed to leave me feeling centered and refocused. And it is most certainly Love that heals.

    I, too, take some solace that this nightmare will come to an end. And that there will be a rebirth.

    In the meantime, I’m almost a thousand miles away, aching for Napa and all who are/will be impacted by this horrible disaster. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers. Please stay safe and take care of each other.

  • Having watched my state, and the Columbia Gorge in particular, burn this summer and wake every morning to stinging eyes, scratchy lungs and horrific pictures of some of my most sacred forests in flames I totally understand your pain. I agree that in the “grand scheme – big picture – cosmic wheel” way that nature will win out, as always, and new life will be born from the ashes – but it doesn’t make the here and now any less sad or the tears less salty.
    Cheers my friend. Stay safe. Stay the course. All my love.

  • Beautifully written, John, honey. I am so sad . I asked Tami to check on you when I first heard where the fires were. I am so thankful you are okay. I pray the winery you work for is not impacted. Tami, Lisa and I know what it’s like to lose everything in a fire. It is shocking. You feel helpless and hopeless, but we know you DO go on. “Things” can be replaced, eventually. Your life cannot. We are grateful we made it through unscathed and I am praying for you and all of your Vineyard family and friends that you will all overcome this. God bless.. Love ya, kid.
    Diane Thrasher

  • You’re the best, John Taylor.

  • I’m gutted to hear about the fires in Napa. I feel for you. I’ve spent a lot of time there as I used to live in Vacaville, not so far away. I have beautiful memories of the region and it’s wonderful wines, and the times I spent there with friends and family. And now to see this all burning up is so tragic. I hope they can contain the fires. Prayers to all.

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