On August 24, 2014 there was a big earthquake centered in Napa, CA, which is right in the heart of California’s wine country. The quake was about 6.2 and was the biggest Northern California earthquake in 25 years. It caused a lot of damage and injured about 70 people. Fortunately, as of today, no one has died. Thousands of bottles of wine were destroyed and a lot of old brick buildings were damaged.
As crazy as it was, the plan after teaching at Mendocino was to drive to my friends John and Theresa Frei’s new home. John is co-owner of Otto Frei Jewelry Equipment in Oakland, CA. He and Theresa recently purchased an 18-acre vineyard and remodeled the old house on the property. Their new home is just 7 miles from Napa. As soon as I heard about the earthquake I texted John to make sure everything was okay. He said the house shook like crazy, but that absolutely nothing happened. Not even a glass fell over.
I lived in California for almost 50 years and have experienced countless earthquakes. While there certainly are exceptions, for the most part, rural, single story, wood-framed houses do really well in earthquakes. It’s the multi-story unreinforced masonry structures that are packed together in cities that are super dangerous. John and Theresa live in a wood-framed house in the middle of a farm. The night I spent at their house there was a 3.something after-shock in the middle of the night. It was a tangible reminder that Mother Nature is really in charge. It’s also a reminder to not have a big aquarium next to your bed in California!
It was super fun hanging out with John. Within minutes of being there we jumped on tractors and drove around the property. I was fascinated by how good wine grapes taste and I couldn’t stop eating them. John gave me a bag of freshly picked pinot grigio grape clusters and a couple of bottles of his pinot grigio wine. Next, I’m headed to Trinidad, CA, my old home town, to have a reunion with some of my oldest friends. I’m really excited to have a fresh grape & wine tasting combo with some well-aged college buddies.