Earthquake damage to the Chilean wine industry is not nearly as bad as feared, the country’s biggest producers say.
After a board meeting today at Vinos de Chile and Wines of Chile, the domestic and international operations that represent 95% of the industry, the verdict is that some 12.5% of the country’s cellared wine has been lost.
That is about US$250m worth of wine – a figure that will not represent actual loss as the wine is insured, and moreover the country’s wineries were overstocked, Rene Merino, president of Wines of Chile told decanter.com.
‘This will not affect our supply to our importers at all.’
The meeting consisted of the heads of Concha y Toro, Errazuriz, Santa Rita, San Pedro, Undurraga, Montes, Veramonte, Casa Silva and Tamaya, as well as the country’s biggest bottle manufacturer, Cristal Chile.
Most of the earthquake damage happened in the 6th, 7th and 8th regions: Maule, Cachapoel and Colchagua. Maipo, Casablanca and Bio Bio were also damaged.
But, Merino pointed out, for decades Chile’s infrastructure has been built to withstand earthquakes.
‘Most of the damage in wineries was done to the old buildings which are used as offices and for tourism. The modern wine facilities were not affected and vineyards have not been damaged.’
He said, for example, that his offices were on the fourth floor of a building in Santiago. They came through the earthquake unscathed apart from a few breakages.
Initial speculation that Concha y Toro had lost 40m litres of wine was inaccurate, Merino said.
The 2010 harvest itself is also little affected. It has begun in the north, which is far from the epicentre and unaffected, and ‘a little Sauvignon Blanc is being brought in in Maule and Curico. The harvest will be delayed by four or five days in some areas.’
Merino was at pains to point out that he was only talking about damage to the wine industry, and stressed that the industry would do all it could to help those affected by the disaster.
He said that there had been no reported deaths in any wineries, although workers had lost their houses. ‘But we still don’t have the whole picture.’
The national death toll stands at about 800.
Written by Adam Lechmere