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August 25, 2014 10:10 PM

SD Owner Of Napa Winery In Earthquake

Sioux Falls, SD

Damage from the earthquake that rocked Northern California over the weekend could total more than $1 billion.  A Sioux Falls winery owner was there when the quake hit Sunday morning and he's totaling up the damage to his product.

It's not the kind of wake-up call anyone wants to get at 3:30 in the morning.

"The room just started shaking and the closet doors flew open--things fell off the wall," eye surgeon Dr. Vance Thompson said. 

Thompson was in Napa with his wife for an event for winery owners. 

"So I had felt a tremor before, but this was a lot bigger, and you just wondered where it was going to go.  Was it going to stop, was it going to end, or was it the end?" Thompson said.

Seconds later, it did end.  The Thompsons were staying just north of Napa, but their winery, Jessup Cellars, is near the epicenter of the 6.1 magnitude quake.  There were broken water and gas lines, and barrels filled with 64 gallons of wine came toppling down.

"They're very heavy and they're stacked six high and they were lying on the ground like they were children's toys," Thompson said.

There were broken and leaking barrels and wine all over the floor.  New barrels ready for this year's harvest were also damaged.  Jessup Cellars is still totaling up the loss.

"I think the business will take somewhat of a hit, but I think it's going to be okay.  And then you're going to find others that are in worse places that it maybe wiped out their product.  But as far as the overall wine business, this was a very small area," Thompson said.

Thompson is just glad to have his feet back on solid ground.

"We're glad to be back in South Dakota.  We've learned about tornadoes over the years and what to do. When you're in an earthquake, you really don't know where to go. You're just standing there wondering how far this is going to go.  We're glad it wasn't too bad and we'll get through it," Thompson said.

And this year's harvest will continue as planned.

In addition to the Thompsons, Dr. Dan Blue and his wife Becky, also of Sioux Falls, are owners of Jessup Cellars.

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