Earthquake Proof Your Wine Cellar

On the morning of August 24th, 2014, the most powerful earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area in over two decades struck less than 10 miles south of the city of Napa.

Fortunately, no lives were lost in this devastating earthquake, but the damage to homes, historical buildings, infrastructure, and the area’s world-famous wineries took years to repair. The 2014 harvest had just begun, but with the 2013 vintage still in barrels and many wineries still waiting to release wines from the highly anticipated 2012 vintage, the damage to the wine industry in the Napa and Sonoma valleys could have been crippling. While many wineries did experience quite a bit of loss, it could have been much worse. Even the hardest hit wineries were up and running just a few days later and moving forward with the 2014 harvest.

This earthquake serves as a reminder to those living in earthquake prone areas to earthquake proof every area of their homes including the wine cellar. There are a few steps that can be taken to protect your prized collection in the event that "the big one" hits in your area.

wall screws

Anchor All Wine Racks

Anchor your wine racks to the wall to ensure that they are secure and will not fall over in the event of shaking. All wine racks will have specific instructions for wall anchoring. For modular and wood wine racks, simply fasten the rack to the wall through the back spacebar using eight 2-1/2" screws. For added stability, ensure that at least two of the screws are inserted directly into the wall studs. Use drywall anchors for screws that are not secured to a stud.

modular wine rack

Racking Choice

Consider racking that will allow you to store wine in boxes or crates. Pack the boxes with packing foam to keep the bottles from breaking in the event that the boxes fall from their position.

wood wine cellar


Place the most expensive and prized bottles towards the bottom of the rack. Wine bottles are generally durable (particularly true of the “punt” or bottom of the bottle) and will likely survive a fall from a low height. However, wine placed near the top of the rack may not be able to survive a fall of several feet.

straps for wine bottles


One of the best ways to keep your wine from sliding out of place during an earthquake is to secure each bottle to its rack by using a strap. There are a number of different straps available for purchase or you may make your own.

burgundy wine cellar

Decorative Rugs

Most wine cellars are constructed with hardwood or tile flooring. While this type of flooring makes for a beautiful cellar, they do not provide the bottles with a soft landing. Place decorative rugs at the base of your wine racks to act as a “crash pad” in the event some of your bottles may fall from your rack.

gunmetal wine cooler

Locking Doors

Another option is to keep some of your most prized wines in a locking cabinet, wine jail, or wine refrigerator. Locking doors on these storage solutions will keep your wine from sliding out of position. Cabinet doors may also be added to custom cellar projects.

Earthquakes are a part of life for those living in earthquake prone areas. The same fault activity that caused the Napa earthquake is also responsible for the diverse soil that makes the Napa Valley one of the premier areas in the world for growing grapes. It is important to always be prepared and to safeguard as much as possible for these disasters. Contact Vinotemp with our Contact Form to learn more about how you can prepare your cellar for an earthquake.