The 6.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked Napa, CA, on Aug. 24 caused about $2 billion in economic damages and more than $4 billion in economic losses, according to recent reports. The region lost a huge amount of wine due to broken bottles at wineries, stores, bars and restaurants.
Is there anything you can do to safeguard your wine in case of an earthquake? Novato, CA-based Fireman’s Fund, which specializes in insurance for commercial winery businesses, has developed a list of tips to help wine collectors protect their bottles and cellars from seismic incidents.
1) Use seismic retrofitting. Any wine cellar in a home that is not properly secured to the foundation is at risk. If your home was built prior to 1970, it should be evaluated by a structural engineer or licensed contractor to be sure it meets modern seismic design standards.
2) Secure your wine racks. Bolt the wine racks to the wall and install at a slight upward angle. Store the bottles horizontally and use specifically designed earthquake pins or chains to secure the bottle necks to the racks. For new cellars, consider purchasing earthquake resistant racks that have already been designed to tilt towards the wall at a 6-1/2 degree angle.
3) Minimize storage height. Keep the storage height as low as possible to reduce the chance of breakage. Large heavy cases should be stored on the lower level racks.
4) Install a backup generator. To preserve the condition of your wine, a climate-controlled environment is critical. In the event of a prolonged power outage, a permanent backup generator will ensure that a stable environment is maintained. A permanent backup generator will also provide power to other critical systems such as central station alarms and sump pumps.
5) Maintain an up-to-date inventory. In the event of a loss, a detailed inventory and documentation (e.g. appraisals and invoices) will help expedite the claims process. Store backup copies of all documentation in a secure off-site location.