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Most of the Napa Valley wine industry rebounded fairly quickly with minimal loss after the destructive 6.0 magnitude earthquake in August 2014.

Not so for the Trefethen Family Vineyards in Napa. Although the Trefethen family and their 100 employees, like other winemakers, picked up debris, then immediately returned to the urgent work of harvesting the year’s crop, their cleanup lasted far longer — 33 months.

The historic old Eshcol Winery building on their 600-acre estate had buckled badly and was close to collapse, becoming an enduring symbol of nature’s wrath. Some thought it a lost cause, but passion prevailed over practicality, and on Saturday the winery unveiled a painstakingly refurbished structure.

John and Janet Trefethen and their children, Hailey and Lorenzo, immersed themselves in the massive undertaking to restore the beloved wooden structure, which had survived many temblors since it was constructed in 1886. The pumpkin-colored structure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, had been knocked as much as 4 feet to the west during the quake.

“This is a great symbol of recovery from the earthquake. It’s also a symbol of the strength of family-owned wineries in Napa Valley,” said Jon Ruel, chief executive officer of Trefethen Family Vineyards.

The Napa County earthquake was the strongest in Northern California since the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, which killed 63 people and resulted in more than $7 billion in damages. In contrast, the 2014 quake contributed to the death of one person and caused about $360 million in property damage.

Napa vintners realized they caught a break with the quake striking at 3:20 a.m., at a time when no one was at their facilities.

“If the quake had hit during the afternoon, we might have had fatalities rivaling the Loma Prieta with 600-pound barrels tumbling down from stacks onto tourists and workers alike,” said Rob McMillan, founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division, based in St. Helena. “It was bad, but it could have been so much worse. We were lucky.”

For the rebuilding, the family turned to Hailey Trefethen, the 30-year-old, third-generation executive vice president. She led the process by assembling for the project a team of contractors, architects and engineers who had experience with historical properties.

Trefethen oversees the vineyards and winemaking at the estate. But she had no prior construction experience herself.

“What she had was a passion for the building, a passion for the company and a desire to put it right,” Ruel said.

The family was committed to rebuilding the structure, even though one industry analyst noted, “Any sane person would have knocked the barn down and rebuilt something.”

Hailey Trefethen conceded the project was not financially prudent.

“This wasn’t the financially responsible thing to do. This is what we love. We are stewards of this building,” Trefethen said.

Ruel did not provide an exact cost, but said it was between $1 million and $10 million.

The building was designed by Hamden McIntyre, who also was the architect of other classic Napa Valley winery buildings such as Inglenook, Far Niente and Greystone.

Unlike Eshcol, those structures were built against hills. Workers would take loads of grapes by horse-drawn wagons up to the top of the winery, where the grapes would be crushed. The juice would flow downhill to be fermented, aged and finally bottled, said James Lapsley, a UC Davis viticulture professor and author of “Bottled Poetry,” which chronicled Napa Valley from Prohibition to modern times.

The winery at Trefethen is located on the valley floor, so the pre-Prohibition crews were forced to use a steam-powered conveyor to lift grapes to the top of the building, Lapsley said. The structure also did not have caves, so the barrels were stored in rooms where redwood sawdust was used for insulation. McIntyre also used a system of ventilators to bring in cool air in the evening.

“The winery is a piece of history,” Lapsley said in an email. “It is a magnificent and historic building and is a wonderful example of state-of-the art winery design in the 1880s and 1890s.”

The family originally restored the building in 1968. A nearby crush pad was constructed in time for the first vintage in 1973. About 75 percent of the building was dedicated to winemaking, specifically the barrel aging of wine, and the rest used for a tasting room and visitor center. The ratio remains the same with the revamp, Hailey Trefethen said.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the building had to be stabilized to prevent it from collapsing. A system of jacks helped balance the weight of the structure, while a row of diagonal steel beams formed a brace to prevent the western side from falling over.

Next, the crew had to ratchet the building upright through an elaborate cable system. The process was expected to take a month. Instead, it took only a week.

“A piece of wood in one position for 130 years... it wants to go back into the same place,” Hailey Trefethen said.

Crews worked to preserve as much of the old building as possible, and it was rebuilt with 85 percent of its original material. The retrofit included new wood to reinforce existing walls and a series of steel columns and beams that will provide greater support in a future quake. A new heating and cooling system was also installed.

The renovated first floor has barrel rooms on both sides of the new entry space that can be viewed through a glass enclosure.

“There always needs to be wine in this building,” Hailey Trefethen said.

The tasting room was moved to the second floor, accessible by a new elevator. During the construction, tastings were held in an outside tent and later at a villa on the grounds. Remnants of the temblor still remain. A cracked support beam was left in place on the second floor, along with a clock that hangs from the wood. The clock stopped at the time of the earthquake.

The renovation, Ruel said, also shows that smaller, family-owned wineries can still remain viable in an era in which the top eight wine companies hold about 60 percent of the U.S. market.

“It would have been the opportunity to say things aren’t going so well, let’s wash our hands of this place. Instead, they doubled down,” he said of the family.

The winery sticks to classic mainstays such as chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon and has carved out a small niche with its riesling. Its winemaking approach is more hands-off, Ruel noted.

That sense of tradition carries through with Hailey and Lorenzo as the family approaches 50 years in the Napa Valley.

“They aren’t starting a cool wine brand for millennials,” Ruel said of the siblings. “That’s so not who we are.”

The two are looking to use the story of the renovation to help Trefethen stand out to a new generation of customers. They both said their personalities help balance each other out as they try to grow their brand.

“He has a tendency to think big and tends to dream,” Hailey said of Lorenzo, who focuses on sales and marketing.

Lorenzo replied that “Hailey pushes me down to earth.” She then interjects: “I tell him what’s actually possible.”

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.