Napa Valley: totting up the damage

A magnitude 6 earthquake shook the vineyards of Napa Valley for several seemingly endless minutes on Sunday August 24. The incident is extremely significant as Napa County contributed 13 billion dollars to the Californian economy in 2011. Fewer than 500 wineries provide jobs for 46,000 people locally and 300,000 nationwide (cf. Napa Valley Vintners). The quake on Sunday was the worst one recorded in the San Francisco region since 1989 and it affected several of the County’s wineries, including some of its most iconic.


Napa Valley: the extent of the damage

The economic impact is still hard to ascertain. It would seem that insurance companies may cover damage of up to 1 billion dollars state-wide. The natural disaster may well undermine the unashamed success record of Californian wines which account for over 50% of the domestic market and over 90% of sales of bottled American wines abroad. Another noteworthy fact is that the United States became the world’s largest wine consuming country in the world in 2010.


Napa Valley: has harvesting begun?

The damage is significant in the wineries but fairly minimal in the vineyards. Harvesting began on August 29 in the coolest parts of the region (Carneros) with most of the first fruit (Chardonnay and Pinot noir) destined to be made into sparkling wine. The 2014 vintage is approximately two weeks later than average due to cool weather during the spring which delayed flowering and fruit set. The following weeks and months failed to make up lost time.

Were you in the Napa Valley on August 24. Are you still there? Feel free to contact us and share your feelings about the earthquake.


©Can Balcioglu -