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