Quake jolts, doesn't stop 2014 Napa harvest

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 2, 2014 at 1:16 pm •  Published: September 2, 2014
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NAPA, Calif. (AP) — The first pinot noir grapes of the season came in to Trefethen Family Vineyards as usual, glistening purple mounds stacked in white bins.

Well, almost as usual. This year, harvest workers donned safety vests and hard hats in deference to their proximity to a circa 1886 building left sagging at the knees by the magnitude-6.0 earthquake that hit Aug. 24. But with the building propped up, the harvest went on, here and elsewhere in the Napa Valley.

No one is minimizing the quake — dozens of people were injured, historic buildings were damaged, rivers of wine were lost, and early estimates put the loss at $360 million — but the impact on the harvest itself, and therefore the wine made from it, is expected to be relatively small.

Part of that is timing. With harvest about to start, many wineries already had bottled their 2012 and 2013 wines, which meant they were securely boxed and shrink-wrapped.

Some wineries did lose significant amounts of wine, but consumers aren't expected to notice an overall drop in supply since this year's harvest follows two successive big crops and comes at the end of what has been a favorable growing season despite the state's deepening drought.

Still, looking at wineries individually, there was some dramatic damage.

At The Hess Collection, a winery renowned for its art collection as well as its wines, a brown sandstone path turned purple after gallons of 2013 cabernet sauvignon gushed out of two ruptured 10,000-gallon tanks. And a crack in the wall of an old stone building meant guest operations had to be moved to other parts of the winery grounds, but none of that stopped harvest.

"It is, in fact, wonderful to be distracted from the unexpected craziness of the earthquake to the expected and very much planned for craziness of harvest," said Hess spokesman Jim Caudill.

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