Friday, April 18, 2008

Anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake

Here we are 102 years after the 1906 San Andreas earthquake which shattered San Francisco.

I hear some of you saying..."so what does that have to do with wine?"


But first- attached are a few stereo-optic photos taken right after the 1906 earthquake: notice how everything is pretty much gone (fires consumed most of the wood the quake spared), how the people are living in the streets, and how the then destroyed Fairmont Hotel was reported to have cost JUST $4,000,000 to construct in the first place! These days you can't even look at a lot the hotel occupies in SF for that much cash.
(Thanks to Stuart for sending these photos in...
Click on the photos to see a bigger version, and look at the center of the photo and cross your eyes slightly...and the photo should
magically pop out at you...)

...and isn't it nice how the Keystone-esque cops are guarding the safes from the banks?...
And still more damage & people living in makeshift shacks and tents, with no water and no sanitation...(please note how the shack has a horseshoe which is placed the wrong way up for luck...)...
Again, how does this tie into wine?
One of the most common questions when I see people tour wineries is "what happens when there's an earthquake?"
t's usually asked as people are shown around barrel rooms - especially rooms which have the barrels stacked high above the tourists heads...and by people from back east, or at least people whom haven't experienced an earthquake or two.

Well, here's a video of what's possible when you take a stack of barrels 6-racks high and place it on a shaker table for a simulated quake. I should note that in my book, wineries really worried about this possibility use 4-barrel racks for stacking as they're much more stable than the 2-barrel variety are in earthquakes...notice how they fail in the front-back (linear) direction and not to the sides (laterally). (I didn't get any sound on the video...)

As you watch the video and look at the photos, think to yourself of how much it would cost to repair the damages from a quake in these current gloomy-economy times...I mean even the smallest mom & pop winery is worth $10~20MIL.
And even the cheapest house in Napa or Sonoma counties is a half-million dollars each....

Inventory losses for winery case goods alone could reach the $500MIL mark, as they're also stacked high and might be damaged in a quake. Tack on all the costs from damaged buildings, losses to equipment and lost time working the wines, as well as possible losses to life, and the place is pretty much a shambles. Transportation chains broken due to injured workers, damaged highways, overpasses and bridges, etc...
In fact, just a few spots of Silverado trail, highways 29, 12/121, and highway 101 being damaged would cripple the ability for National Guard relief to get through.
If there was also damage to the local airports, we'd be pretty much screwed for a week or two.

What is there for you to do to prepare?
Definitely put together an earthquake kit with all the food & water you'll need for 4~7 days, but also slip a few bottles of your favorite wines in as well...after all, you can't be sure when your favorite wine shop will reopen (if ever), and the comfort you'll get from having something as simple as a good bottle of wine will be priceless in a major event like that (you could also barter it for something else, should the need arise!).
[check out the ABAG website for additional preparedness info]

Shat would the total monetary damages be? The final number would vary greatly depending on the type of scenario that plays out, but it could easily be in the billions.
It might even approach the total from, say, a Katrina-type disaster, though the area affected would be much smaller in scope. But still the possible consequences of a strong quake scenario in the North bay area are drastic.

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Anonymous cac said...

Fascinating angle. I work in the Large property business and we write some fairly large wineries, the gallo's etc. The loss would be catastorphic but not even close to Katrina. Insurers especially commercial ones have really limited their exposure to the risk. I say limited ie 5-20M a quake. So yes wine etc would be lost and many wineries may go under, especially the smaller ones.

May 13, 2008 10:05 AM  
Blogger filmgeekster said...

Interesting article, I live in California, so Im constantly worried about the "big one" and not just for the affect it will have on wine! Speaking of California, what do you guys know about this new California wine movie Bottle Shock opening in early Aug? I saw the trailer on-line and think it looks very funny...reviewers are comparing it to Sideways which is encouraging...

July 28, 2008 11:28 AM  

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