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Mar 08

Chilean Wine, Post Earthquake

I was in one of my favorite wine shops on Friday (which I will not name) and the nice guy pouring wine started telling me about the dire straits the Chilean wine industry was in post-earthquake. Turns out, the nice guy interpreted a $250 million dollar loss a little too pessimistically. It’s certainly bad, but it could be a lot worse.

Image from Montes Winery, Chile

I found the Wine Spectator article he referenced and supplemented it with my favorite online wine magazine, Decanter. Turns out that $250 million is across the Chilean wine industry as a whole, and includes 125 million litres of what is basically spilled juice. So if you break that up between all the wineries, it’s a loss, but nothing like they had originally feared.

From Decanter on March 3:

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.’

That last sentence is key, because it means that you can still buy Chilean wine over the next year without a problem. Additionally, the wineries may not have lost much wine, but their employees did lose their homes, electricity, and so much more. I may actually make a point to buy more Chilean wine in 2010 and hope that somehow, by helping the wineries, I can help their employees.

From Wine Specatator, March 3:

In addition, many wineries now have scores of workers in need of shelter. “What really concerns us now is our workers, as many have lost their homes,” said Merino. “This has to be addressed quickly. However, there is much that is out of our hands—electricity, roads, ports are obviously under government control, rather than ours.”

Wine Spectator also mentions that while the overall damage estimate is lower than feared, some wineries were indeed hard hit:

  • Viña Santa Rita: ~8 million L, 1 m of which was premium juice
  • Viña Montes (Purple Angel, Folly, Cherub): ~20% loss of icon level wines (Alpha M, Folly, Purple Angel)
  • Miguel Torres: ~ 100,000 litres
  • Viña Santa Carolina: ~ 200,000 litres
  • MontGras: ~ 5% tanks, 10% barrels
  • Viu Manent: Less than 15% of inventory
  • Concha Y Toro: Initial figure of 40 million was “wildly exaggerated, but losses will be significant.”

Update: I’ve also heard from Viña Los Vascos (a Lafite estate) in the comments.

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    Posted by Michelle at 10:33 am in Current Affairs, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (2)

    2 Responses to “Chilean Wine, Post Earthquake”

    1. Katie says:

      Very interesting article. Thanks for putting all these resources/stats in one place!

    2. Michelle says:

      This news from Viña Los Vascos / Lafite got sent to me in an email today and I’ve received permission to add it as a comment:

      Dear Friends,
      As you may have heard, Central Chile was shocked by an earthquake last week end.
      The region of Colchagua has suffered various damages.
      At Los Vascos we are relieved to announce that all our employees and their families are safe!
      Vineyards, buildings and technical equipment have not been damaged but some water dams were hit by the quake and should be repaired soonest.
      Some tanks, barrels and bottles have unfortunately collapsed and we anticipate a loss amounting up to 20 % of our wine inventory.
      Fortunately the harvest is coming soon under good auspices and we should be “back to business as usual” next week when we expect electricity, water and telephone lines to be restored.
      Shipments might be delayed and we trust that you will understand.
      Our commercial department is at your disposal to assist you.

      Christophe Salin
      Domaines Barons de Rothschild [Lafite]
      http://www.lafite.com

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