Many businesses in the wine industry escaped damage, and the fall harvest season is now in full swing in the Napa Valley. // © 2014 Bob Ecker
Feature image (above): The industry and community have rallied support; for example, the Napa Valley Vintners Association pledged $10 million to help those most affected in the community. // © 2014 Thinkstock
In just under three weeks since a 6.0 earthquake rattled the Napa Valley in California, most hotels, restaurants, wineries and popular visitor attractions in the region are open for business.
At 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 24, a 6.0 earthquake occurred along the little known West Napa Fault. The towns of American Canyon and Napa, the county seat and a prime destination in the region, were hit particularly hard. The “up valley” towns of Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga were shaken up but no damages to homes or businesses has been reported.
Visitors to the area, well known for its wineries, resorts, spas and culinary offerings, may not see any evidence of the earthquake except in downtown Napa. Some buildings and homes in the city of Napa were extensively damaged, but they were the exception. The most severely damaged buildings, such as Napa County Historic Courthouse and Napa Post Office, were constructed of brick, stone or unreinforced masonry.
Most businesses and homeowners have cleaned up and many of the businesses that initially closed have reopened. Napa Valley’s upscale lodging facilities such as the Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville; Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena; and Silverado Resort and Spa, Napa River Inn and The Meritage Resort and Spa, all in Napa, are among the properties fully open for business. The Andaz Napa in downtown Napa is currently closed for repairs.
The Restaurant Scene
Napa Valley’s hot dining scene fared well in the quake. Many venues cleaned up broken glasses and crockery, before quickly reopening their doors. Popular eateries open for business include Press Restaurant in St. Helena; Bouchon Bistro, Bistro Jeanty and The French Laundry in Yountville; and Mustards Grill in Napa.
Carpe Diem Wine Bar, Don Perico Mexican Restaurant and Sushi Mambo, all located in Napa city closed for repairs; check with the restaurants for reopening dates.
“Downtown will survive with flying colors,” said Michael Dellar, CEO of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group and owner of the Fish Story restaurant in downtown Napa, which suffered a few broken bottles. “It has so much momentum that a setback like this is only a pause. I am as bullish as ever.”
Oxbow Public Market, a popular visitor spot in Napa that houses a collection of high-end food purveyors and restaurants, sustained some damage from the quake but is fully open for business.
“We’ve got an amazing group of tenants and a supportive community,” said Steve Carlin, founder of Oxbow. “We’ll get through this together.”
City Winery, a major live performance venue in the city of Napa, reopened quickly after the quake, but Uptown Theatre Napa sustained damage to its interior ceiling. The Uptown is expected to reopen in early November.
Initial survey results show that more than 120 businesses in the wine and agriculture industry in the Napa Valley sustained damages totaling $48 million. But many businesses escaped damage entirely, and the industry and the community have rallied support. The Napa Valley Vintners Association pledged $10 million to help those most affected in the community, mostly in the city of Napa.
The fall grape harvest is underway at most Napa Valley wineries, although a few felt some damage, including The Hess Collection located in the Mount Veeder viticulture region.
“We’ve sustained some damage that will cause us to alter operations a bit, but we will be welcoming guests very shortly,” said Jim Caudill, director of public relations and hospitality for The Hess Collection. “It’s a great time of year to visit, and now we’ll have a bit more to talk about as we swirl, sip and spit.”
Other wineries that sustained damage from the quake include Laird Family Estate Winery and Bouchaine Vineyards. There were barrels lost, wine spilled and some winery structures damaged.
“For almost all in the wine business, the earthquake came as a big surprise,” said Grant Long, Jr., winemaker at Blue Oak Vineyard. “But the way the valley has banded together to help those that were affected is no surprise. Whether it be a recession, drought or earthquake, the people in the valley will always stand by each other through tough times.”
Tor Kenward, proprietor of the prestigious Tor Kenward Family Wines in St. Helena, noted that wine barrels are made of oak because it’s one of the world’s hardest woods and can only be bent with fire.
“Most of all our barrels survived because of this,” Kenward said. “Natural disasters test us like the staves of the barrels we use. They put us to the fire, bend us and make us better neighbors, better people and collectively magnificent.”
The people of Napa Valley, including those in the visitor industry, are going full steam ahead in the aftermath of the earthquake. The annual grape harvest is underway, and visitors are welcome to discover the region’s wineries, lodging and dining options, luxurious spas, great weather, balloon rides and more.