I am a native Californian and have grown up with earthquakes. I learned how to seek shelter under a table or stand in the doorway, because doorways are the last to fall. I am sure this sounds strange to many of my friends across the states. We have learned, as natives of the state, to take it in stride – no different than folks who live in areas of other natural disasters. Even so, it is a tragedy to see cracks in roadways, fallen bricks, and damage to homes and businesses as a measure of the magnitude of force that exists in nature.
Many people were injured this past Sunday when the 6.1 earthquake hit in American Canyon, which is the city just south of the city of Napa. I am sure that all saw the pictures of fallen buildings, damaged facades of old structures, and some fires as a result of gas leaks. The pictures of broken bottles and fallen barrels filled the TV screens. What we are fortunate for is that, for all the energy that was unleashed with the movement of earth, there were no fatalities. I know that is not the only measure of the extent of damage from an event, yet it is very lucky. Sympathies are extended to those who were hurt, and we all know that if the quake had hit in the daytime, the loss of life and the number of injured would have been much greater. That it did take place in the middle of the night is a blessing. Still many people have been injured and suffered. The loss of a home is a horrible experience. Again, sympathies to each for your loss and the challenges you must bear on the road back.
Many of the buildings that were hardest hit were historic and vintage structures. One of my favorite tasting rooms in downtown Napa, the Vintner’s Collective, suffered extensive damage. The brick facade came down, yet the sign in front of the building says “We’re down but not out!” That is the tone and tenor of the valley. People are helping each other where and when it is needed. It is a small valley, and people know each other and are there to lend a hand.
Many wineries experienced little to no damage from Sunday’s quake. I have read that even wine storage facilities in American Canyon, where the epicenter was, have no damage and lost no wine. The impact is variable. Remember that the valley is 30 miles long and the earthquake struck at the southernmost end. I have received many emails from wineries – some in the Stags Leap District and some further up valley — that are fine. They’re shaken, but fine. They are open for business, and that is important to know. There is a holiday weekend coming up, and the Napa Valley is open for business. You are welcome to come and enjoy the long Labor Day weekend in the valley!