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Wine Country Quake Leaves Behind Bottles In Shards


The USGS estimates the damage from the earthquake at more than a billion dollars. In Napa, emergency managers are making their initial assessments. Napa City Manager, Mike Parness, explains the process.

MIKE PARNESS: Tonight after we've looked at all the properties, all of the infrastructure, one of the first things we'll be doing in the next day or so is sitting and trying to figure out what does this mean in terms of infrastructure impact - private, public - as well as economic impact.

SIEGEL: The extent of that economic impact will come down to two things - tourism and wine. And you don't get much of the first without the second. NPR's Richard Gonzales has been talking to people in Napa's wine industry.

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: David Graves, co-founder Saintsbury Winery, had already seen the chimney of his home collapse so he was expecting the worst as he made his way to his winery at dawn.

DAVID GRAVES: When I came to work yesterday - or I came to check on the winery yesterday - it looked like a complete shambles on the barrel room.

GONZALES: But Graves says a measure of luck was with him. First, the quake struck in the predawn hours so no one was at work and no one got hit by one of those barrels.

GRAVES: And thankfully, we had bottled everything from the 2013 vintage so there was literally nothing in those barrels.

GONZALES: Graves says he did lose 25 cases of what he calls his vineyard's history - that's his collection of past vintages that can't be replaced. Carla Bosco is the director of communications for Bouchaine Vineyards makers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The good news, she says, is that the winery sustained no structural damage, but Bosco says workers there discovered 40 barrels had been thrown off their racks and crews are in the process of determining how much might be salvaged and re-barreled.

CARLA BOSCO: It's just a lot of wine to mop up. So we were closed for the day yesterday but we are opened for business today. In fact we're getting 10 tons of grapes delivered to process here very shortly.

GONZALES: But those barrels, I mean is it possible to keep those barrels strapped down?

BOSCO: Not really because they have to be moved quite frequently. They need to be tapped and rotated - so there really isn't an efficient system to strap them down because every time you'd strap them down you'd have to be unstrapping them and moving them - probably within a few days.

GONZALES: Like representatives of other wineries contacted today, Bosco had no cost estimate on damages. The talk was still about the quake itself. Emma Swain is a CEO of St. Supery Estates Winery

EMMA SWAIN: Today people are kind of digging out a lot of glass and a lot of mess and trying to assess what the damages and what the next steps are.

GONZALES: There is a widespread sense of relief that the quake wasn't worse. And David Graves of Saintsbury Winery says the blessings of the Napa region outweigh the risks.

GRAVES: You can't have our landscape that's so wonderful for making wine without having had and living in a seismically active place. So it's hard to remember that when your house shaking and things are crashing to the ground. But in the cold light of day when everything seems OK, probably good to remember that.

GONZALES: A little perspective from the Napa Valley's 13 billion dollar wine industry. Richard Gonzales, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.