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Napa quake winery damage nears $50m

California's biggest earthquake for 25 years caused close to $50m of damage at wineries and farms in Napa, according to an initial estimate that experts believe is still set to rise.

Damage to barrel storage room at Oak Knoll in Napa County. (Image: La Villas)

Napa County officials have requested emergency Federal aid after estimating that total economic losses from the 6-magnitude earthquake at $362.4m.

Around 170 people were hospitalised – three with serious injuries – after the quake struck at 3.20am on Sunday 24 August. Its epicentre was American Canyon, just south of downtown Napa.

Napa officials estimated the financial cost of damage to wineries and agriculture at $48m. Around 120 wine and agriculture businesses suffered at least some damage in the quake.

That figure is expected to rise. The initial total ‘does not include losses a result of business interruption, lost tourism or lost inventory’, officials said. A spokesperson for Napa Valley Vintners, the wine trade body that has been working with Napa County officials, told Decanter.com it was still assessing damage reports.

Several winemakers told last week of how they arrived at their wineries shortly after the earthquake struck to find smashed bottles, burst vats and barrels strewn across the cellar.

It remains unclear how much wine was lost, although hopes had emerged by the end of the week that stock losses were not as bad as first feared. The California-based Wine Institute said it does not expect the quake to curtail overall wine supplies.

Damage reports also varied widely, with some producers, such as Shafer, reporting no problems.

Some reports have suggested smaller-scale producers have been disproportionately affected. Craig Camp, managing partner at boutique producer Cornerstone Cellars, said he still doesn’t know the extent of wine losses but that ‘we have certainly lost some of our work from the 2013 vintage forever’.

By today (2 September), Camp had only just gained access to the cellar where his wine was stored, at Laird Family Estate. A photo posted by Camp showed barrels scattered on the cellar floor.

He wrote on his blog that the team was focused on the 2014 harvest. ‘ It’s time to celebrate the new vintage not mourn for the old one.’

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Written by Chris Mercer

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