Chile Quake - Wine News Update

March 6, 2010


Strong aftershock quakes continue

This will be the last update to this post, and any further information about our friends, or the wine situation in Chile will be consolidated on the Amigos Vinos Chile page.

Christian Callec: Writer/Blogger in the Netherlands has been pulling together initial information and reports about a number of wineries. He’s also got a couple of posts that show concern that the whole truth is not available yet, and may even be withheld.


No new major news, maybe it is the weekend, and people are getting refueled for the work ahead. no nuestra noticias?

CNN: Bryan Byrnes: new damage video

Reuters: Quake Hits Chilean Wine Production ( VIDEO )
of course they do say at one point that 125 litters of wine worth $250 million dollars was spilled, so the editor may already be hitting the pisco sours.

At what point does the magnitude of an aftershock, like 6.6, constitute an earthquake in it’s own right?  The seismic activity has continued with high frequency since the initial quake, and is represented visually, on this Google Map posted by USAToday. The concerns now, in the quake zone, are still food, water, and the risk of disease.  The wine country, in general is reporting no loss of life, damages to facilities being assessed, and preparation for the impending harvest.

Much of what we are reading is in some way a reiteration of previous reports, but we’ll still try to keep the newest postings up to date.  This listing is human generated and not the product of a headline scraper-bot, so we hope to be able to choose links wisely, based on the actual content. Noticias del dia ( as translated by Google)

USA Today: Quake puts dent in Chile’s wine business

Wine Lover’s Page: Quake shakes Chile’s wineries

Business Day: Wine export gap after Chile quake
already 03/06 down under.

CTV: Strong aftershocks hit quake-stunned Chile
not wine related, but does cover the immediate issue facing the quake zone survivors.

Although this post will remain focused on the effect to the wine industry, a call with family in La Serena tonight, gave us a preview of  stories that will likely be appearing in the news over the next couple of days: a young heroine in the Juan Fernandez whose warning about the impending tsunami saved lives, 1.5 million buildings destroyed, whole small fishing villages vanished, and very large buildings in Santiago that are no longer stable and being evacuated.

John Fagan of Calmont Beverage got communications and images from Requingua / Puerto Viejo and shared them with us for posting.  I am especially interested as I met Matt Long last year at the Calmont New World Tasting.  He is a family member in the winery business and was representing here in the US.  He was a quite amiable and knowledgeable young man, and was proud to be part of a family tradition.  He was just getting ready to turn over the Miami, FL operation to a protege, and head home to work on premises.


From: John Fagan
Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2010 9:15 AM
Subject: FW:  Puerto Viejo Earthquake Update

Dear Friends:

I apologize if anyone has received multiple responses to our last email from other recipients.  As promised we are updating you with the progress we have had after the earthquake.  As you know everyone in Requingua is safe and our team is responding very well to the task of getting things back to normal as soon as possible.  After a careful assessment of the damages we have come to the realization that we have been very fortunate in comparison to other wineries in the area.  We are now certain that we will be able to weather this crisis very effectively and that we will soon be prepared resume dispatches as well as harvest.  The actual damages we have incurred are as follow:

· We have lost 984,000 liters of wine. Less than what we had though originally.
· We have lost 1.5 million liters in Stainless Steel capacity.
· We have had damage in another 1.8 million liters of stainless steel capacity which we will be able to use regardless of the damages.
· We have had extensive damages in our adobe constructions of which many will have to be demolished.

We must also point out that there are several interruptions in the highways as well as delays in the ports and that while it will take a while to repair the roads we believe that we will have reliable alternate routes as well as fully operating ports within the next few days.

Having mentioned the main damages I would like to point out what we do have:
· We still have over 5,000,000 liters in stainless steel capacity which has been untouched.
· We have secured 7,000,000 liters in off-site storage capacity in good condition.
· We have purchased 2 large generators to begin harvest as of tomorrow regardless of the power outage.

· We are prepared to receive the entire 2010 harvest as originally planned.
· Our vineyards and grapes are in perfect condition.
· Our bins with bottled wines and oak barrels with Reserve wines have been virtually untouched.
· Our bottling plant is in perfect condition.

We are pleased to inform that we have sufficient stock of all of our bottled wines for the next few months and that we are prepared to receive the 2010 harvest in its entirety.  If any supply issues do arise we will let you know ahead of time although we think this will not be a major issue.  We will also begin with the demolition and reconstruction of the larger structures.  In order not to swamp your mail boxes we will only forward future updates to our importers.  Thank you for your support.
Best regards,
REQUINGUA TEAM, Puerto Viejo Wines

Dear Friends:
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your kind messages and support during this natural disaster which has hit us so hard.  The first thing we would like to point out is that everyone in Requingua is safe and sound.  I would also like to point out that our winery is very close to where the epicenter was and that the damage to Requinga as well as the surrounding areas was severe.  Our neighbor and fellow vintner, Osvaldo Astaburuaga, died as he was buried in the debris of his collapsed home just a little bit down the road from us.  In the city of Curicó many people were killed.
We also suffered tremendous material losses.  We believe to have lost over 1.5 million liters of wine and we know that we were not the only ones as the stream running through our estate was tainted red with the wine form our upstream neighbors.  Furthermore the structure of the older part of our winery was seriously damaged.  It will probably have to be torn down.  We are still assessing the damages and probably will not have an exact idea until late this week.
Despite the above we are certain that we will be able to overcome this.  We still have sufficient quantities of all of our wines to supply everyone during the next few months and we are about to begin harvest which will allow us to replenish our wine supply. We also have insurance on many of our assets including the wine and while claims take a very long time to process we are hopeful that eventually we will be reimbursed for part of our damages.
During the next few days we will have to invest all of our available resources to begin operating normally.  Our immediate goals are to provide a safe work environment for our employees, begin shipping orders and prepare our winery for harvest.  We expect to accomplish this in a matter of days.  Repairing our facilities and recovering completely from this disaster will take months, even years.
As nation we are still discovering the scope of this disaster which is beyond what we could imagine originally.  So far there are 725 reported dead and it is believed that there are over 1,000 people missing due to the after-waves which affected many coastal towns.  We cannot  guarantee the accuracy of this information as reports are being updated constantly.
Attached are a few photos of the damage suffered at Requingua as well as the church in the neighboring town of Sagrada Familia, just 2 kilometers away.  We hope to have new updates in the coming days.  Thank you once again for your concern and support.
Kindest regards,

Washington Post:
Chile earthquake rattles wine industry as millions of bottles’ worth is lost



Wines of Chile:
Declaration on the Chilean Earthquake and the National Wine Industry

Liz Caskey: Help Chile Rebuild After the Earthquake

Yahoo reports: Quake threatens important Chile fish, wine sectors

Jancis Robinson: Chilean earthquake appeal

Decanter: Damage to Chilean wine industry not as bad as feared

Miami Herald: Earthquake a major blow to Chile’s wine industry

Guardian: Chile earthquake hits wine industry

Smithsonian: Chile Earthquake Strikes a Blow to Wine Industry

DailyFinance: Chilean Earthquake’s Tremors May Be Felt in American Consumers’ Stomachs

A few more details are starting to come to light and news organizations are giving the wine situation a closer look. We figured based on the proximity that there would be damage, but numbers are only starting to be thrown around. 12-20% loss of stored wine? Still no direct details from folks down there. Everyone is still occupied with assessments of the damage but there is optimism that the harvest will come in a couple of weeks, when the whites start coming in. We’ll have to see if they are ready to process them. There are a lot of people that rely on the wine industry to provide important jobs, some of them only seasonal.


NEW! Chile Earthquake relief ONLINE.

Bryan Byrnes: Former Local VT Reporter in Chile with CNN.

(Spanish content - consider using Google Translate or Babel Fish )

The online version of Vendimia, the publication that covers the Chilean wine industry also has a couple of brief articles here and here reporting about the situation in the Maule and Curico where older wineries have suffered significant damage. And now another where La Viña De Martino is assessing the damage to their facilities like so many others. It may be easier to to just keep an eye on the daily news page - Noticias del dia.

I just spoke with the folks at the M&M produce company in Hartford, CT regarding the orders they are taking for the shipment of fresh Chilean grapes in early May. As the harvest for most grapes is still weeks away, they are optimistic about the grapes themselves, but do not have any details about the logistics of shipping them north. They come by container ship, and with the ports in disarray, delivery may prove to be extremely difficult.

Email from my father-in-law tells me that there is not much news inside the country relative to the effect on the wine industry…still too chaotic. It may be that it it getting more coverage in the international press than nationally.

Most anyone that reads this post will certainly already be aware of the enormous earthquake that shook the Chilean coast early Saturday morning. We have been watching the situation closely, as my in-laws live there, and frequently travel to the capital in Santiago. We’ve just gotten word, today (Monday March 1), as communication resources are coming back online, that they are fine. This event follows the devastating quake in Haiti, where my cousin had been working with a non-profit group she helped to found. Our Soil. In both cases, the silence and the wait for news, are an emotional trial, but one that pales in comparison to the very real hardships the face the souls who must continue on, in difficult situations.

While the relief efforts in Haiti are well established, and the Wine for Haiti” project continues to accept both bids and donations, the scope of the quake’s effect in Chile is still not completely clear.

Although the 8.8 in Chile was a significantly more powerful seismic event, the Chileans are somewhat “accustomed” to earthquakes. In general there are building codes in the cities that surpass, by far what there are in Haiti, and so the death toll is, so far, smaller in magnitude. However, near the coast of Chile where people and families were enjoying the final weeks at the end of summer vacation, the cabanas that they reside in, were likely not built for the forces that tore at them.

Liz Caskey is a wine and food writer living in Santiago, and I have periodically followed her blog, whenever I get the itch to know what is going on in Chile. She posted a first report from the city on Sunday, and has just done so again, and is already urging folks not to let sensationalist media deter them from considering a visit to Chile. The airport will be online again in a couple of days, and tourism is an important part of their economy, which is something that, like it or not, Vermont can relate to.

Now there are also reports about damage to the wineries in the Rapel and Maule valleys, and details are filtering from Wine Spectator Senior Editor James Molesworth’s Twitter feed, and in a WS Online article that was posted earlier today.

Dr. Vino also has a post that shows a basic map of the wine producing valleys, relative to the quake epicenter.

Concha Y Toro has released a limited statement regarding the quake and related damage.

The New York Times Online initial article.

We’ll continue to update with further information as it becomes available. Fuerza Chile.

Fuerza chile

Aside from the obvious differences between our cool and reserved New England demeanor, and the warmer Latin culture of Chile, I actually have felt a deep sense on belonging when we have visited there, and believe that our Green Mountain population and the people of Chile have a quite a bit in common. The Chileans I have been fortunate to meet are tough, optimistic, outspoken, entrepreneurial and resilient people who put a high value on good food, family and community. I realize that the reports of “mobs” in the quake zone may seem to undermine this assessment, but as my wife reminded me this morning, the Chileans also have a deep tradition of the passionate street protest. In the case of our last arrival, we just missed by hours the big annual university student demonstration in La Serena, protesting the increase of fees and tuition, that resulted in a meeting of molotov cocktails and crowd control fire hoses. If they feel that they need their voices to be heard, their is little hesitation to gather. Vermonters may not be so outwardly demonstrative, but no one can deny that our little state often has a voice that belies its size. Chile, like Vermont, also harbors a tension between working folks on the edge of poverty, and an affluent class that sometimes forgets that there are folks worse off than themselves. It is those instances, both here and there, when folks from either side share a glass together, that I remember to have hope.

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