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As many of you have heard by now, there was a 6.1 earthquake that rocked Napa County this past Sunday morning at 3:30am. Lucky for me (and not so lucky for her), Annie P. was staying with me at my apartment in Napa that night, and we woke up from the noise and violent tremors clutching each other, screaming and cursing. We couldn’t even hear the sound of all my dishes and glassware breaking, or my dresser falling to the floor next to my bed – just the sound of my entire building shaking. It was the most terrifying experience I have ever had, and will probably be one of the most memorable moments of my lifetime.

After 20 seconds of shaking, Annie P. and I were both able to find our phones and a flashlight relatively quickly. Then she heard the sound of water pouring out from somewhere. I opened my bedroom door to this sight:


This was actually taken in the daytime, once I could get proper photos.


As the tears came, I heard one of my neighbors yelling outside, “is everyone okay?”. I told her “we’re not hurt, but my apartment is a disaster.” Then my upstairs neighbor came out of his apartment, and told me that his water heater had broke and he needed to turn the water off. So that’s where the leaking was coming from. Water came into my kitchen and mixed with the spilled wine, seeping into the back of my bedroom and bathroom. As Annie P. and I worked quickly to move things from the floor and protect them from water, my neighbors finally found a way to turn the water off.

After surveying the damage in the dark, we realized there was nothing we could do until daylight, so we gathered with my neighbors outside. First we were all attempting to call our parents and loved ones, but Annie P. had the only working phone so she graciously let us use hers. One of my neighbors got out some water for us to drink, and turned on his car radio so we could listen to the coverage. Before we knew it, 5:30am rolled around and a 3.6 aftershock hit, which didn’t do any more damage but it certainly scared the sh*t out of us. The sky began to lighten, and Annie P. and I decided to sleep for a few hours before waking up to search for coffee and clean what we could. I do not know what I would have done without her. I was paralyzed.

Damage at Carpe Diem, a downtown restaurant

Damage at Carpe Diem, a downtown restaurant

Trying to be a sober driver, this guy left his car parked downtown on Saturday night. It's actually a rental car.

Trying to be a sober driver, this guy left his car parked downtown on Saturday night. It’s actually a rental car.

As news broke of other damaged properties and wineries, I realized a) there was a lot worse damage than my own, and b) how lucky everyone was that the earthquake occurred at 3:30am so that nobody was in any of the properties with severe destruction. Unbelievably, the winery I work for wasn’t damaged at all – not a broken bottle or barrel in sight. But Napa Valley Register estimates 1 billion dollars worth of damage to Napa County, with much of it coming from the wine industry, whether in barrels, tanks, bottles or structures. Fortunately for some, harvest is nearly upon us so a lot of the wine had already been bottled and moved to other facilities.

One of my favorite wineries, Trefethen, was one of the wineries that had very little wine inside their winemaking facility. But they had structural damage that split parts of the building, making it impossible to enter. They are hopeful – as am I – that they will be able to reconstruct the property without losing too much of the original structure. Silver Oak’s library cellar was basically a pile of wine bottles, some broken and some in tact, but nonetheless shook up. I keep receiving emails from wineries with updates on their damage, but every email starts with how grateful they are for the fact that nobody was hurt. I am still amazed by this, and although the damage to my “stuff” has certainly been an inconvenience, I understand how lucky I am to come out unscathed.

It turns out I only lost about 12 bottles out of 120+, half of which are unfortunately irreplaceable. But I have a load of survivor bottles, and every time I open one I will remember what my new home and I went through, and how we came together, and survived.

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a food and wine lover residing in Napa, California, where she does marketing for a boutique wine collective. She previously lived in San Francisco for over six years, where her blogging journey began. She loves to cook seasonal meals and experiment with new wine pairings. She has been drinking and learning about wine with her father since she was 14, and cooking in the kitchen with her mother since she was 6. Both of her parents taught her well about seasoning and flavors, and she continues to learn more with every meal that is made.

5 responses »

  1. Wow. I am speechless. And also SO grateful that the damage was to things and not to you! Hopefully it was an experience you will not repeat.

  2. Merrill sanders

    Your apartment has officially been christened! So glad you were not physically hurt!

  3. What a scary experience. With so much damage it’s amazing so few injuries were reported – that’s something to be very grateful for. We had just been on vacation in Napa a few weeks before and seeing the photos of the city after was just so haunting! We had dinner at Carpe Diem and sat right by the window that is now shattered and seeing the damage to so many of the beautiful buildings I had just photographed was heartbreaking. Hopefully everyone can rebuild and insurance will help to cover some of the worst losses.

  4. Welcome to Napa! We were all lucky in so many ways- heard countless stories of people who could have been really injured but they happened to be in the right place at the wrong time 🙂 We live in north-west Napa and our house was pretty trashed on the inside but somehow we were on a good power grid and never lost power, so we were able to start cleaning right away and finish it for the most part by the afternoon. We have most of our wine in boxes on the ground-not stacked high, so the only alcohol we lost was a partial bottle of rum 🙂

  5. I am glad you are OK. Wine can always be replenished. Thanks for sharing your wine tips with us and keep up the good work with your blog and share you wine country insights.


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