Tallying the Damage from the Napa Quake

The 2014 harvest is under way in California, but in Napa, instead of enjoying a beer in between loads of processed fruit, many winemakers are rushing back to their offices to speak with accountants, lawyers, and insurance adjusters. On Thursday 11 September, while the country was remembering a national disaster of larger proportions, the Obama Administration officially declared southern Napa County a Federal Disaster Area, clearing the way for federal funds to flow to the region.

When the largest earthquake to hit California in 25 years strikes a few days before the beginning of harvest, all hell breaks loose for everyone but the luckiest.

Saintsbury co-founder and managing partner Dick Ward may or may not be one of the lucky ones depending on your point of view. The damage to his Carneros winery will likely be somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000, thanks to the destruction of his water storage system, the loss of approximately 400 bottles of library wine, and the breakage of a few barrels in the cellar. ‘Basically we ended up with some serious pre-harvest irrigation’, jokes Ward, as he describes how 21,000 of gallons of water poured down the hill into the vineyards as his water tank toppled off its perch. ‘We were actually planning on beginning our Pinot harvest the next night’, continues Ward, ‘but obviously that didn’t happen’.

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