of California's wine industry got a sobering demonstration
on Friday of the damage a large earthquake could cause
in their cellars.
Watch a video of the demonstration,
including an introduction by Joshua Marrow.
demonstration was set up by UC Berkeley civil engineering
graduate student Joshua Marrow, who has received support
from many segments of the wine industry for his studies
of wine barrel stacking methods.
a simulated 7.4 earthquake - the kind that could hit
any of a number of faults in northern California - wine
barrels toppled and racks collapsed in a matter of seconds,
spilling water that could easily be a premium pinot
noir. Only straps tethering the barrels to the ceiling
prevented them from bursting open and sloshing their
contents into the gutter.
kind of in shock," said Jeff Ritchey, winemaker at the
small Clos LaChance winery in Los Gatos. "This shows
there's not a whole lot you can do if you're in the
cellar when an earthquake hits."
was one of numerous representatives from wineries that
included Mondavi, Lohr and Phelps, plus people from
the wine insurance industry, present to see first hand
how current stacking techniques stand up to a quake.
wineries like Kendall-Jackson, Mondavi and Gallo can
have 50,000 to 60,000 barrels stored," Marrow said.
"At $3,000 to $5,000 a barrel, counting the value of
both wine and barrel, this can really add up and cause
a major business loss or even bankruptcy."
noted that Ahlgren Vineyards in Boulder Creek, for example,
lost the equivalent of 200 cases of premium grade barrel
select chardonnay when barrels stacked in pyramids came
toppling down during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Most of the wine spilled when the bungs jolted loose.
Despite this loss, the winery still stacks barrels in
pyramid configurations up to five barrels high because
it uses limited floor space more efficiently, Marrow
Martin Winery, now owned by Arroyo Seco Vineyards, was
driven into bankruptcy by the 1984 Morgan Hill earthquake.
shake test was conducted on the nation's largest earthquake
simulator at UC Berkeley's Pacific Earthquake Engineering
Research Center in Richmond. Robert Mondavi Winery donated
60-gallon oak wine barrels for the test, which Marrow
filled with water and stacked in various configurations
up to six barrels - about 18 feet - high.