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Cal-OSHA investigating winemaker death atop wine tank

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An assistant winemaker died Wednesday at a winery in east Napa when he somehow fell inside a wine tank, authorities said Thursday.

Gustavo Javier Muro, 43, of Napa, was found on an adjustable lid six feet inside the tank at Ancien Wines, a winery on the 4000 block of East Third Avenue, said Napa County Sheriff's Capt. Tracey Stuart.

It's unclear when Muro was last seen alive. Fire crews responded to the call at 7:10 p.m. Muro was removed from the tank and pronounced dead at the scene at 7:45 p.m., Stuart said.

Muro did not drown, Stuart stressed. An autopsy will be conducted Friday to determine how he died, she said.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the death, Cal-OSHA spokeswoman Krisann Chasarik said.

The assistant winemaker may have been transferring wine from a small storage tank into a larger 1,500-gallon tank, according to information from the Sheriff's Department and Cal-OSHA.

Preliminary information indicates the 43-year-old employee was checking to make sure all the wine was in the larger tank when he fell, Chasarik said.

"Cal/OSHA's investigator will be looking at all the circumstances that led to the accident and determine if there were any health and/or safety violations," Chasarik said.

Muro was one of three employees listed on Ancien Wines' Web site.

In a short interview, Curtis Strohl, marketing director at Ancien Wines, said he is in shock.

"I can't believe that my friend is gone," he said. "We're heart-broken by this."

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