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Napa quake: Tasting room serving several vineyards heavily damaged

Tasting room serving several Napa Valley vineyards is heavily damaged in 6.0 quake; building was built in 1875
'Even if [structures are] built to the highest standards, the strongest earthquakes will cause damage'
Napa Valley tasting room that had been seismically reinforced is red-tagged after 6.0 quake

The long, rolling earthquake that struck the Bay Area early Sunday jolted Kim Erasmy out of her bed just before 3:30 a.m.

As soon as the shaking stopped, she raced to Vitner's Collective, her tasting room on Main Street in downtown Napa. 

Aided by the lights of a nearby news van, she shined a flashlight beam over the façade of the building, which has stood in downtown since 1875.

In the 4 a.m. darkness, she struggled to see the extent of the damage. Then the sun rose.

"To see it at night dulls it a bit," Erasmy said. "It was completely different to see in the daylight. It’s shocking."

The upper-right corner of the handsome sandstone building had crashed to the sidewalk in a pile of rubble. The parts of the building that remained intact appeared to be unzipping, with cracks widening between the stones.

Falling sandstone pulled off a maroon awning and crushed two spiral topiaries on either side of the front door. 

“Everything that was original has crumbled,” Erasmy said. “Everything that makes it a historic building is gone.”

Erasmy said she didn’t know what year the building had been retrofitted, but said it was already seismically reinforced when she bought it in 2002. The foundation appeared to be intact, she said. The building has been red-tagged, meaning no one can enter it until officials inspect the infrastructure.

During a televised press conference, Napa’s city manager said that retrofitting is intended to keep a building’s infrastructure intact, and doesn’t mean that buildings will emerge unscathed.  

"There are some features in buildings that can still come off in an earthquake," Mike Parness said. "Even if they’re built to the highest standards, the strongest earthquakes will cause damage. There’s no guarantee." 

Being able to see rubble on the sidewalk and not knowing what had happened inside was particularly stressful, Erasmy said. "We’re worried that, when things fell off the front, things also collapsed inside… We just don’t know. We don’t know when we’ll know."  

About 16 vineyards serve their wines at the tasting room, which Erasmy said has played host to many local residents.  Customers from across the world have called the owners and posted on the business's Facebook page, asking about the damage.

 

Twitter: @laura_nelson

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