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In quake, barrels became quarter-ton projectiles

Napa Valley Calif.’s earthquake has revived worries about a risk particular to wine country – falling wine barrels.

Vintners say thousands of wine barrels fell from their racks during the Aug. 24 earthquake that hit southern Napa County.

Winery heads, like Richard Ward of Saintsbury vineyard, say many people would have been in harm’s way if the 3:20 a.m. quake had hit at another time.

Winery seismic-engineering specialist Joshua Marrow says a simple change, like switching to a more stable kind of barrel rack, can help.

Vintner David Duncan of Napa’s Silver Oak winery says he switched to the steadier rack years ago – and says that saved him tens of thousands of dollars for each unbroken wine barrel in the quake.

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