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California Wine Regions Deluged By New Year's Floods

Residents, businesses and vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties suffer millions of dollars in damage

James Laube
Posted: January 2, 2006

Winemakers in Napa and Sonoma counties were busy cleaning up their cellars on the first Monday of 2006, after a series of wicked, drenching storms pushed rivers over their banks, causing widespread flooding.

The troubles began as rain poured down on New Year's Eve. Many of Napa Valley's vineyards along the muddy Napa River were flooded, and in Sonoma County the Russian River overflowed. While there were reports of damage to vines and some muddied wineries, it was the residences and businesses in the cities of Napa and St. Helena that suffered the most serious damage.

Revana Winery, north of St. Helena, suffered some flooding, said Tom Garrett, assistant winemaker. The winery had "just enough water to be a problem," Garrett said. "And we're not sure what's going to happen to the wood floors in the tasting room." No wine was lost, however. Other wineries along the Napa River, which runs the full length of the valley from Calistoga to Napa, were also hit by mud and water.

In the city of Napa, the floodwaters forced the evacuation of more than 1,200 homes and 150 businesses, officials said. County officials' preliminary estimates of damage in Napa alone were put at $50 million to $70 million.

In St. Helena, the flood level surpassed the record set in 1986. Officials there said they had yet to assess the damage since the river was just receding, allowing people to get back to their homes and businesses.

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