Local winery owner weighs in on Calif. quake

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The earthquake that rocked Napa, California, also shook the wine industry.

Napa Valley wineries are still trying to get a handle on how much they've lost.

Charles Cox is President of Lakeridge Vineyard and Winery in Clermont, Florida and of San Sebastian Winery in St. Augustine.

Since this weekend's 6.0 magnitude earthquake in California -- which busted and broke barrels and bottles of wine in Napa Valley -- he's been getting calls from concerned friends.

Cox said, "Mainly I think the concern is: are wine prices going to go through the roof and do we need to stock up?"

His answer is simply, "I don't think so."

According to the Napa Valley Vintners trade group, wineries in Napa Valley say they saw damage to their barrel areas, wine inventory, and production equipment.

But Cox said a saving grace may be that much of the wine may have been already sent out for distribution.

"Everything I'm seeing -- which is typical of the wine industry -- is most of the tanks and barrels have been emptied as they get into the harvest time of the year," Cox noted.

The grapes on the vine reportedly were not damaged.

Still, it may take weeks for the wine industry to fully know how much Napa Valley wineries have lost.

While the earthquake shook some wineries more than others and while Napa Valley plays a significant role in the nation's wine industry, Cox does not expect you to see a big impact at the store.

"In this scenario, I don't expect it to change very much as far as what we see on the shelves," he said.

From his San Sebastian winery in St. Augustine, he feels for his colleagues on the other coast, but he's glad no one there was killed in the quake.

"You can replace wine. But injuries and loss of life are pretty tough to deal with," Cox said.


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