Quake hits Napa wineries; raises fear of price increases

The consensus seems to be that the earthquake will impact the quantity but not the quality of the Valley's wines.
Another key industry hit hard by the Sunday's 6.0 earthquake is Napa Valley's wine business, especially in what was suppose to be a good year for growers. Napa vintners prepare for the harvest crush every fall, but not like this.

"It was just absolute chaos," says Karen Fontanella of Fontanella Family Winery who spoke with ABC7 reporter Tiffany Wilson.

At the Fontanella Family Winery busted barrels, collapsed cases and smashed bottles of wine required immediate, yet delicate clean-up. Crews had to hook, hoist and lower barrels one by one. Some barrels will be salvaged. But others have been unceremoniously dumped down the drain. "We don't have any numbers, but we suspect it will be in the millions that we lost," claims Fontanella.

It's a hard hit for a young family winery that produces only 10-thousand cases a year. In addition, it's a race against time and temperature as the entire winery must be unloaded before the new harvest arrives.
"We have grapes that are starting to come in and we need every inch of our facility to process those grapes," explains Fontanella.

Yates Family Vineyard stores their entire 2013 vintage at Fontanella as well. It's too soon to tell how much spilled or spoiled, but after assessing the damage, Whitney Yates says it could have been worse. "I was really glad the crew wasn't in here when the earthquake hit or we'd be looking for them instead of just barrels."

The earthquake may have devastated these two wineries, but Michael Honig, President of the Napa Vintners Association, says this will not be a setback for the industry. "If there is a silver lining, the two vintages that most wineries have in place now is a 2012 or 2013 which is our biggest vintages ever, so if we're going to lose something, it's great to lose vintages that we have a lot of because unlike Coca Cola you can't just turn on the faucet and make more wine."

Honig says the earthquake's impact on pricing is yet to be determined. "Not a lot of us lost wine, a few of us lost a lot, but the majority didn't lose anything. I'm not sure if it's going to impact prices one way or another to be honest."

The consensus seems to be that the earthquake will impact the quantity but not the quality of the Napa Valley's wines. That could be good news for wine lovers everywhere.

At the Fontanella's Winery busted barrels, collapsed cases and smashed bottles of wine required immediate, yet delicate clean-up after Sunday's 6.0 earthquake. Crews had to hook, hoist and lower barrels one by one. Some barrels will be salvaged, but others have been unceremoniously dumped down the drain.
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