Quake damages Chile's wineries, production delayed

Tue Mar 2, 2010 4:45pm EST
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - As the death toll in Chile climbs to near 800, the toll from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake on one of its largest exports, wine, was still being assessed on Tuesday.

"The impact on the infrastructure was considerable as the earthquake severely affected the heart of the Chilean wine industry: Maipo, Cachapoal, Colchagua, Maule and Bio Bio wine regions," Salvador Domenech, managing director of Santa Rita wines said.

He added, "We don't see major impact on the vineyards , so we are maintaining the enthusiasm regarding the quality of the upcoming grapes."

Luis Mayol, president of Chile's National Agriculture Society, told Chilean business daily Diario Financiero that the wine industry is likely to suffer some significant losses from the earthquake, which seriously damaged the country's infrastructure, including wine storage facilities.

Antonio Larrain, general manager of the Chilean Wine Corporatin, told Diario Financiero that 70 percent of the country's vineyards are located in quake-hit areas.

He said the country has 900 million liters of wine in stock at the moment. A first analysis suggests that 20 percent of that amount might be "compromised."

The start of the harvest season was to begin in parts of Chile over the weekend.

"Our company, as well as the rest of the industry, have been heavily impacted by this catastrophe," Chile's leading wine exporter Vina Concha y Toro said on its website on Tuesday. "We have already been able to assess serious damage to some of our main wineries which are located in the worst affected areas."   Continued...