Art, Architecture and Wine take a Seismic Hit in Napa

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Picking up the pieces in di Rosa's Historic Residence.  ( Courtesy of di Rosa, Napa)

Napa’s charming, historic downtown buildings suffered heartbreaking damage from the Aug. 24 earthquake, and the same is true for the area's arts organizations, who are now in need of some serious financial support.

“Napa is open for business,” said Jim Caudill of The Hess art collection and winery. “Harvest is a great time to visit, and we'll have a little more to talk about was we swirl, sip and spit.”

The Hess Collection has vineyards and a museum-sized art exhibition space that holds works by Andy Goldsworthy, Robert Motherwell, Anselm Kiefer and many more blue chip artists. Due to the earthquake, all of their sculptures tumbled off their pedestals. And they lost $4 million-worth of wine when two 10,000 gallon tanks in their storage facility ruptured.

Re-installing a 3-D element of William T. Wiley's "The Cold Plan Notes," >1985, in di Rosa's Main Gallery. Image courtesy of di Rosa, Napa.
Re-installing a 3-D element of William T. Wiley's "The Cold Plan Notes,"
>1985, in di Rosa's Main Gallery. Image courtesy of di Rosa, Napa.

“The Cabernet Sauvignon ran out of the winery and into our inner courtyard, putting a new hue to our mountain meadow garden,” said Caudill.

In regards to the artwork besides the toppled sculptures, he said, “Most of the major paintings and other artwork came through just fine.” The full scope of the damage is still being assessed, but the venue will be open in a slightly limited capacity starting today.


The art and nature preserve, di Rosa, which houses the largest collection of Bay Area art, has three large buildings full of art. While the Gatehouse, Main Gallery, and Sculpture Meadow were scheduled to reopen Wednesday, Director Kathryn Reasoner explained that the Historic Residence, which is chock full of artwork (there are even paintings on the ceiling and a sculpture in the bathtub), will take longer to clean up.

Miraculously, only one bottle of wine broke at this vineyard-lined location, but there are several damaged artworks.

“The majority of the damaged works require only minor repairs. A few may have more serious damage. Ultimately we were relieved to see how well our newer installation methods held up and how much work remained in place,” said Reasoner. “We have nearly 200 outdoor sculptures and so far have identified two—one stone and one ceramic—both with horizontal elements that broke due to stresses under the ground.”  

After detailed inspections, the facilities staff at di Rosa found no structural damages, and overall, Reasoner feels fortunate that more damages weren’t sustained.

“Although di Rosa is very near the epicenter of the quake, our buildings are on the rocky slope of Milliken Peak, the highest point at the southern end of Napa County, so the geologic foundation was an advantage,” she said.

What can you do to help support di Rosa? Visit, become a member, and if your pockets are deep, make a donation. The organization is no longer owned by the late Rene and Veronica di Rosa, it is a non-profit public trust that preserves 200 acres of beautiful California landscape, as well as an historically significant collection of art from over 800 artists the Bay Area community.

The Napa Valley Opera House and the Uptown Theater, among other organizations, have also sustained earthquake damages. Keep an eye on the Arts Council of Napa Valley’s Facebook page to stay updated on more organizations that need support, and find resources if you or your business are in need, including the Craft Emergency Relief Fund.