Wine Country Quakin & Shakin

I can’t tell you how many non-Californians I’ve spoken to over the years who simply want nothing to do with earthquakes and who even question my sanity for living in a place where "you are simply going to be swallowed up by the earth one day."

The fact is, if there is anything more exciting than a moderately strong earthquake, if there is anything that gets the heart racing faster than a decent sized jolt of the ground below you, I don’t know what it was.

Yesterday night, as I settled down with a glass of 2002 Murrieta’s Well Meritage and my wife to watch "The Matador" the earth began to shake under our butts. The 4.4 earthquake actually found its epicenter right  here in Glen Ellen. Ginny and I both knew exactly what it was the second it hit. Here’s the funny thing. As we both leapt up off the couch to scurry outside, I grabbed my plate of food and she grabbed her wine.

Most reports have a few things falling off shelves here and there but no damage and no injury. In Ginny’s design studio a lava lamp and a few books fell over, but that and a wavy swimming pool is all that resulted from the quake here at the Wark Chateau.

If you’ve been through a big earthquake then the minute you feel one come on the mind races and heart jumps. First, you know it’s an earthquake within a second of the rumbling. Nothing else feels like that. Also, the sound gives it away. The closest thing to the sound is the rumbling of a huge truck going down your street: it’s a low, vibrating sound that truly is a rumble. In your mind you are wondering, "how big is it going to be? Is my life about to fall apart along with my house"? While this is going through your mind over the course of 2 or three seconds you are racing to get outside. If you are lucky…you’ll actually see it. That is, you’ll see things move that don’t normally budge…like your fence, or planters or other items that normally don’t move unless you force them too. It can be so disorienting it’s actually exciting.

Last night’s quake was short and strong. Just long enough to save a glass of wine and a plate of food, get outside, see things move and feel the heart race. 4.4 isn’t huge, but it’s not small. It’s unusual. It’s doubly unusual to have the quake centered practically directly beneath your home.

But, again, most importantly, the 2002 Murietta’s Well Meritage survived.

Whole lotta shakin!!

Posted In: Personal, Wine News


8 Responses

  1. Fredric Koeppel - August 3, 2006

    too bad about the lava lamp.

  2. Mark - August 3, 2006

    I was living in Van Nuys when the ’71 San Fernando quake hit. I went through 3 reactions to it: 1) Alright!!! Ride’em Cowboy. 2) Movie director who is directing a couple who are going too far in a love scene. Cut! OK God, that was good but I’ve had enough. 3) Oh my God, I’m going to die. Well, if the building is going to collapse, why get out of bed.

  3. tom - August 3, 2006

    Mark, my wife was in the NorthRidge Quake…It hit as she was nursing young Trey…She ran to a door frame…He just kept on eating.
    Fred: The lava lamp tumbled, but survived!! Whew……Close.

  4. Sondra - August 3, 2006

    Here in Forestville, the windows rattled, my heart started racing but I didn’t move out of my reclining position waiting for the next round of shakin’ to decide.
    I, too, was in the 1971 LA quake, Loma Prieta in SF and hopefully whenever the next big one hits I can talk about it and toast it with a fine wine.

  5. JohnLopresti - August 3, 2006

    The California red wine goblet is shaped deep like the one for juices, and the foot is wider than the French prefer. I have thought of this as the news website shows the Damask table cloth at the fair preparing for the tasting. Too many French style shallow goblets. Who is going to pick them all up if a quake launches during the tasting. Motto: empty that glass; or take it outside.
    We get so many temblors in our rim of Alexander Valley, from the steam fields, that yours was just another day in the life, here.
    Glad you are well, and that your priorities are in order.

  6. Brian Miller - August 3, 2006

    I had a bunch of wine bottles sitting on my computer desk. They all rattled pretty good. It freaked me out. (Vacaville is an hour away from Glen Ellen)

  7. Tracy Hall - August 4, 2006

    I’m in Boyes Hot Springs, and it sure felt a lot stronger than 4.4. You made me laugh about the food and wine. We were on the couch also, and we both grabbed our wine and ran to different doors.

  8. James - August 5, 2006

    I seem to have a knack for missing earthquakes… or at least for not feeling the smaller ones. I can count on one hand the number that I’ve actually felt and was able to identify as an earthquake. And there has not been a lack of opportunity. Except for a 2 year stint in Dallas after college, I’ve lived in California my whole life (in both southern and northern California).
    Perhaps my clearest memory related to earthquakes, though, was a documentary that I watched when I was 10 years old. The scientist was going on and on about how California was due for “the big one” and that the entire coastline was going to fall into the sea (which included where I lived at the time). He was also sure that this would happen in 6 years. This just happened to be when I would turn 16. I can remember being depressed for a week afterwards thinking that I would never be able to drive a car before my demise. Well, my 16th birthday came and went and is, unfortunately, a distant memory now.
    Anyway, thanks for jogging some old memories. Glad to hear that the wine survived. 🙂

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