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Future Erosion May Be a Costly Effect of the Napa Fires

As the unprecedented wildfires in Napa and Sonoma County rage on, officials are focused on containing the fire and accounting for the individuals left missing in the chaos. With structures and vineyards gone, one of the most famous winemaking regions in the world is facing dire conditions—and some people are already looking toward the future.

Napa’s Soil Grows Both Grapes & Businesses

Quoted in a Forbes article from this week, Jennifer Putnam, Executive Director of Napa Valley Grapegrowers, says that the fires have done more than robbed people of their homes and businesses. Because there’s no longer vegetation holding the soil in place, the upcoming rainy season may wash away the precious topsoil that makes Napa Valley such a profitable region for growers.

"Without grass to hold the ground in place, even a moderate winter could really raise the level of erosion," she said.

Putnam is just one of many experts are trying to predict and prepare for the years ahead, as the entire region’s financial well-being depends on the wine industry, which supports the hospitality and tourism businesses as well. In a report from the Napa Valley Register in April of this year, Garrett Buckland (President of Napa Valley Grapegrowers) noted that high-value grape growth every year is what allows Napa Valley to remain an agricultural hub.

About More than Business

City services in Napa rely on property taxes, so if local vineyards and businesses lose property value, it could affect every resident in the region. The state of Napa’s soil is more than a financial problem—it’s a question of survival for homeowners and growers alike. Officials already anticipate business recovery as soon as the fires are under control, but long-term rebuilding efforts face a simple problem: there simply aren’t enough local knowledgeable architects.

For a region hoping to recover quickly, local officials will have to find a way to educate architects about county codes and enlist them in the recovery effort—and quickly. For homeowners and businesses, they’ll need to prepare for a fight with insurers and companies responsible for starting the fires. Our firm knows firsthand the lengths to which an insurance company and other responsible parties will go to avoid paying valid claims.