Back to business: Quake damage to Napa wineries less than initial estimates

Byby Tiffany Wilson KGO logo
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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Napa Valley wineries are open for business as quake damage is less than initial estimates.

RUTHERFORD, Calif. (KGO) -- What a difference a week makes. Napa wineries that were worried about getting ready in time for the grape picking season after the 6.0 quake are cleaned up and open for business on Monday.

Cleanup is a race against the harvest clock. The grapes are heavy and ready for picking.

At Fontanella Family Winery, the first grapes will arrive on Tuesday. This time last week, they weren't sure how they'd make it happen. Last Monday, the day after the earthquake, their cellar looked a mess. Exactly one week later and it's a clean floor, stacked barrels and nothing broken in site. "The cellar is back to working order, not completely organized yet, but we're getting there," says Karen Fontanella.

Outside the winery on Monday, harvest equipment stands ready for grapes. Last week, nothing but controlled chaos as everyone simultaneously cleaned. The transformation required 16 hour days and an entire team of friends, family, employees and volunteers.

"I think the adrenaline and enthusiasm of everyone who was in here made it go very fast," explained Fontanella, who added she has also learned a bit of good news over the past week: the damage isn't as bad as she first thought. "We're looking more at a half million dollars worth of damage as opposed to millions."

Fontanella says the wine community pulled together over the past week supplying what they needed time and time again. "We found signs of generosity all over Napa Valley," Fontanella said.

At Flora Springs, Tom Shoar personally delivered care packages to each of the winery's club members in Napa - 47 in all. "I think it was a very nice for people to know someone was thinking of them."

Emma Swain, the CEO of St. Supery, drove around Napa to donate more than 50 cases of wine to dozens of restaurants. Swain says many recipients used the wine to pay it forward by sharing with employees or selling glasses for the earthquake relief fund. "We have wine a lot wine and other people don't. They lost 30 to 80-percent of their cellars. You cant replace that with a drop of a hat. So we thought that's something we can do," says Swain.

Who wouldn't want to drink to that?