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COVID Reopening: Napa County Toasts Return Of Visitors, Business Close To Normal Levels

NAPA COUNTY (KPIX 5) -- With California just days away from a full reopening, Napa County has already roared back to what many consider pre-pandemic speed.

The return of business has also brought a lot of smiles.

"For most people, there's so much pent-up demand," said Tom Davies, President of V. Sattui Winery. "People want to get out, they want to see other people. And I have to tell you, people are so happy."

Aside from the mask rules, which feel like they're barely hanging on, this felt a lot like any regular Friday at V. Sattui Winery. In fact, the business side of things here has made a full recovery.

"We track our sales, we track visitations daily," Davies told KPIX 5. "Right now, when we're comparing what we're doing today, we're looking back at 2019, and we're tracking right at '19. And that's with visitation and with sales."

Napa County Reopening
Visitors to Napa County Wine Country on June 11, 2021, ahead of the state's full reopening of the economy. (CBS)

"Weekdays are doing pretty good too," said Pierrette Therene at the El Bonita Motel in Saint Helena. "Maybe not quite full, but close to it. That's pretty much what it should be."

The El Bonita has been booked on the weekends since May. Now, things are picking up across the week thanks to a new set of visitors.

"At first, it was more the Bay Area and California," Therene said. "Now they are coming from out of state, too. The weddings are on again. I think we have two going on this weekend. So that's brand new too."

But "normal" isn't just a bottom line. It's a feeling, and visitors say that seems to be coming back as well.

"Today, it really does feel normal." said Giselle Mahan, a V. Sattui member visiting from Vacaville. "That's what we were just saying. It really does. This feels like normal. It feels really good to be here."

Ask the locals and they'll point you to the traffic, back to its familiar crawl through St. Helena. It's an old sight they are happy to see.

"Oh it is 100% back to normal," said Sarah Price, working with her dog Cooper. "We love having everyone vaccinated. It's really nice. Masks are, you know, not a normal thing anymore."

"Even though there's traffic backed up, there's a little bit more traffic. Hey, who is complaining?" laughs Davies. "No one's complaining. This feels great."

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