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Quake Damage Slight at Virginia Wineries

Public asks: Was fracking to blame?

by Linda Jones McKee
Quarry Wine & Spirits Baltimore
Wine bottles toppled from the shelves at Baltimore, Md.-based Quarry Wine & Spirits due to Tuesday's earthquake.
Louisa, Va.—Two wineries near Louisa were only about seven miles from the epicenter of the rare, magnitude 5.8 earthquake that shook up the East Coast Tuesday. Fortunately, both Cooper Vineyards and Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery suffered only minor damage and very little wine loss.

Marie Wright, a tasting room employee in her first full day on the job at 6,500-case Cooper Vineyards was alone in the tasting room when the quake occurred. She told Wines & Vines that the building, a brand-new LEED Gold Certified structure that just opened April 8, is “quite the fortress. The only damage was a crack in one vertical beam that moved off center in the tasting room; about two cases worth of wine fell on the floor and broke. We had our award-winning wine bottles on the fireplace, and they all fell off. We had a wine lake all over the floor.”

The winery owners, Dr. Jacque Hogge and Dr. Geoff Cooper, inspected the winery yesterday and made arrangements to have the damaged beam realigned today. Cooper Vineyards had scheduled a Mini Cooper Car Festival at the winery this coming weekend; that event will take place as planned. According to Wright, the winery may add an “After Shock Wine Festival” to its list of events sometime soon.

Penny Martin, owner of 500-case Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery, reported that her winery is in good shape. “There are a few cracks in the outside walls at the winery,” she stated, “but only one bottle broke.”
For an earthquake felt in 22 states, these reports from the epicenter were good news.

However, recent, widespread negative publicity about hydrofracking for gas and oil across the continent, including Wines & Vines’ report about new activity in California wine country, stirred public concern about the practice and its potential seismic dangers. Thousands of Internet queries flooded Google and other search engines with comments and questions about fracking: Was it to blame for the East Coast quake (active fracking activities are taking place in West Virginia, about 160 miles from Louisa County), or a series of temblors earlier yesterday in Las Animas County, Colo., a center of petroleum fracking?

In a posting on, Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall explained that this is not unlikely.

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