Healdsburg's Gracianna Winery on the rebound after the Sonoma County flood
The Gracianna tasting room in Healdsburg was practically submerged the last week of February, with floodwaters just shy of reaching its 12-foot ceiling.
Meanwhile the cellar was immersed in 5 feet of water when vintners – Trini Amador III and wife, Lisa – could finally access it.
“We can't even describe the devastation of the tasting room,” Lisa said. “But we jumped in with the Torres family and are cleaning and disposing of what's needed in a dumpster. At this point we can't estimate the financial impact. It will be weeks or longer before we know the financial impact.”
There were 4,400 cases of wine stored in the cellar. The inventory of more than 50,000 bottles included the vintners' large format bottles, library wines and their personal collection.
“We were able to quickly move wine that was untouched by water with the kind help of the McWilliams family at Arista,” Lisa said.
This is the worst flood since 1995, affecting 2,600 homes and 570 businesses, as well as infrastructure, and causing an estimated $155 million in damage.
While the water submerged most of the Amadors' property, including the Mercedes Riverblock vines, their home was unaffected. The tasting room and cellar clearly took the brunt of the storm. But their vintners' insurance, which covers structural damage, does not include commercial losses such as wine inventory.
“We're realistic in knowing this is not going to be easy,” Lisa said. “We know we have a long hard road ahead of us. But we have experience in building from scratch not only structures but businesses and processes and teams and systems.”
The vintners still plan to reopen the tasting room on schedule April 1.
“While we see this calamity as a major hit to the business, we're already putting in place contingency plans and we're already rallying the troops,” she said.
Gracianna Winery was founded in 2006, with 2007 its first vintage - 50 cases of pinot noir and 50 cases of zinfandel.
The family-owned winery reaches back four generations. The brand is named after Gracianna Lasaga, Trini's great-great grandmother from the Basque region of France. She faced adversity when she was an immigrant and she remains an inspiration, Lisa said, especially now. “We realize what Gracianna endured in her lifetime was much more difficult.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5310.