Earthquake wreaks havoc on Chile’s Wine Industry

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Reports coming out of Chile today indicate that last Saturday’s massive earthquake dealt a substantial blow to that country’s $1.3 billion wine industry. According to the The Washington Post, Rene Merino, president of Wines of Chile, says early estimates put the loss at $975 million (retail) due to spillage from barrels and storage tanks damaged in the 8.8 magnitude tremor. Not since Prohibition has this much wine been spilled in one day alone.

Much of the damage came when massive storage tanks, stainless steel vats more than 15 feet high, toppled. Violent shaking snapped tank legs bolted to the ground, knocking the vats over and causing a domino effect as tank after tank crashed to the ground. Wine stored in barrels was also lost as the barrels rolled off racks, cracked open or popped the seal, flooding warehouses.

Popularity of Chilean wine has grown rapidly in the United States, where Chile is now the fourth-leading wine exporter, behind Italy, France and Australia. Nearly three-quarters of Chile’s wine production occurs in some of the areas hit hardest by the quake, including Maule, Colchagua and Cachapoal valleys.

Winemakers who have visited the region said the damage extended far beyond finished wine. The quake also caused massive damage to infrastructure ranging from cracked underground irrigation tubing to collapsed warehouses. They said the damage has left major questions about the entire 2010 harvest and exports.

Photos and further account of the story is available in The Washington Post. You can read more about some Chilean wine on Another Wine Blog.

- Great Whites from North & South America

- Objectivity and Fairness

- 2007 Cono Sur Pinot Noir

And please visit our friends at Wines of Chile to learn more about helping the wine industry in Chile.

About Amy Corron Power

A licensed attorney, Amy is a wine-lover, foodie, photographer, political junkie and award-winning author who writes about Wine, Food, Beer & Spirits. As Managing Editor & Tasting Director for Another Wine Blog, she travels all over the world's wine regions to share her experiences with her readers and nearly 10,000 twitter fans. Amy holds certifications through the International Sommelier Guild, and is also certified, with honors, as a California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). She is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and regularly attends Houston Sommelier Association events.
  • http://twitter.com/BookCliff BookCliff Vineyards

    That is just terrible. What a tragic situation for not only the wine industry but of course all of the people affected.