Napa's Hess Collection's James Caudill on quake damage at winery

James Caudill, director of PR and hospitality at Napa’s The Hess Collection group of wineries, on the damage the group sustained following the 6.0 earthquake. 

We were impacted quite severely, actually. We had damage in our Mount Veeder winery, including two 20,000 gallon thanks which ruptured, spilling the wine into our center courtyard, where the ground now runs red. Barrels and case goods toppled, and some barrels smashed into windows in our Visitors Center gift shop, breaking them. There were toppled wine bottles and merchandise in the gift shop, although surprisingly little, and many of the sculptures in the Art Museum, which is an essential part of our facility here, toppled over. Many of our employees live right in the heart of where the earthquake hit, and have been personally affected, some quite dramatically. 

Hess Collection quake damage

Barrels toppled and smashed at the Hess Collection

We lost perhaps 2,000 cases of our 2013 Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon ($60 per 75 cl) and some 12,500 cases of 2013 Hess Select North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($18 per 75 cl). 

Hess Collection quake damage

Tank damaged at Hess Collection

Two of the winery’s 20,000 gallon tanks were toppled, while a number of others sustained damage.

But actually, we’re quite grateful no one was hurt.  We are currently assessing the integrity of other tanks, some of which have been knocked askew, to assure safety in the event of after-shocks, which are common. 

Hess Collection quake damage

Red wine flowed out into the vineyard from damaged tanks at the Hess Collection

Our biggest challenge, of course, at this time of year is preparing the winery for a new harvest, bottling and moving past vintages to make room for the grapes that are on the way.  This complicates things a bit, but we’ve been able to already devise a plan to handle it, and we’re blessed with a great team that has worked together for many years, so we’re focused on the task ahead and looking forward to moving from the craziness of an unexpected earthquake to the welcome craziness of harvest.


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