Earthquake Rattles Napa Harvest

This morning shortly after 3:20 AM Pacific Time, the strongest earthquake to hit Northern California since the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta quake struck in American Canyon, just south of Napa. Latest measurements are somewhere between 6.0 and 6.1 on the Richter scale.

“All our 2013 red barrels are on the ground, don’t know how much wine is lost yet” tweeted Steve Matthiasson of Matthiasson Vineyards this morning. The photo he shared (above) shows many barrels intact, but undoubtedly the damage from the quake will add up quickly.

Sommelier and writer Levi Dalton was in the middle of a trip to Napa, and spent the morning driving around to check on the state of things with winemaker Tegan Passalacqua. He snapped this Instagram photo while driving through downtown Napa.


Damage reports vary wildly around Napa, from a few books off of shelves to serious structural damage. A water main broke in the city of Napa flooding several businesses, and a fire destroyed several structures at a mobile home park.

The wine library at Silver Oak winery saw extensive damage, as shown by this photo tweeted by David Duncan:


Many wineries store their barrels, wine, and equipment in American Canyon where the quake was centered. There are few reports from that area, yet, though a friend who runs a warehouse operation in the southern part of Napa reported the only damage in her facility was a computer monitor that fell over.

As with most quakes, the damage will likely vary widely depending on the age and construction methods of various buildings.

This quake arrives at the worst possible time for California Wine Country, as harvest is in full swing, at least for white wines and for Pinot Noir. Many of the Bordeaux varieties are still on the vine, leaving a very short window for producers to clean up the mess and prepare their facilities.

Given the structural damage shown by the photos emerging from the city of Napa this morning, the number of injuries will doubtless continue to climb as well.

As I reached out to the folks I know in the area this morning, however, everyone reported family and friends were safe and sound, if a bit shaken up.

Best wishes and good thoughts to out to all affected by this disaster.