Napa is open
Only 12 of 500 wineries closed due to quake
Travel agents are telling concerned vacationers  1that itís business as usual following Napaís late-August 6.0 earthquake, and local vintners say the famous California wine country experience remains pretty much intact. Of course with $50 million in damage, you will notice a few loose bricks here and there.

Itís the worst quake Napa has had in 25 years, so itís no wonder that people planning trips to Napa might be a little anxious. But no need to worry, say local tourism officials, just step around the police tape and proceed to enjoy the best wine in the world.

Only two of almost 150 hotels in the valley were closed because of the quake, and only about a dozen of 500 wineries were impacted, according to local tourism officials. About 100 homes were declared unfit to enter. Visible damage is mostly in a few historical buildings downtown where the brick construction was no match for the quake. The buildings are still there, but missing various parts and not inhabitable. Some will get a go-ahead after inspection, while others will need to be rebuilt. But you might even say the damaged buildings are yet another fascinating sight to add to the usual list of must-see tourist attractions in a valley full of them.

With 3 million annual visitors, it will take more than a 6.0 earthquake to put a big dent in Napa Valleyís tourism revenue. The area is considered Californiaís second most popular tourist attraction, right behind Disneyland. Local tourism officials also are somewhat relieved that the event happened late in the season and consequently will have less impact on visitor traffic even if some people do stay away.

There also is a plus side to the earthquake as odd as it sounds: The news footage has reminded people all over the world of Napa and its stature as one of the most picturesque wine-growing regions to vacation in the U.S. While serious, the damage to most wineries was not catastrophic enough to completely disrupt business and that is what comes across in most news reports. The result could end up creating more long-term interest in Napa as a tourism destination.

In the short term, the areaís popular grape crush in October is still attracting a lot of bookings and local hotels are confident travelers will come despite any misgivings about the earthquake.
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