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Chilean earthquake shocks wine industry

By Dave Buchanan

The news of Friday's 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile brought concern for many people and places. Reports filtering out of the country, where damage has severely interrupted all types of standard communications, are coming mostly through the social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and many diverse Google sites. There's a good story about these sites here.

Damage has been reported particularly heavy in wineries and infrastructure in the regions of Maule and Rapel (including Colchagua), reports Tyler Coleman on his excellent blog Dr. Vino. Also, the Wine Spectator's Jim Molesworth has been tweeting reports here. If you are a member of the Wine Spectator's Web site, you can get reports here.

Coleman said on his blog that witness reports to Molesworth say “One can smell wine along the roads in front of the wineries. Tanks laying, collapsed buildings, barrels and glass everywhere.” In some places, it's been estimated that in addition to the widespread destruction and loss of life, millions of liters of wine have been lost.

Molesworth has been tweeting what he hears from wineries (follow his feed for the latest). Another source told him, “Big damage to the industry. Millions of liters on the floor.” He also tweeted that Montes and Lapostolle were hit hard in Colchagua, an area that had seen lots of investment in the wine industry.

We won't downplay the sadness that accompanies news that many friends and acquaintances stiill are missing and that homes and families have been ripped apart. As Susannah Gold reports in her blog Avvinare, "It is quite distressing to think of all the work that has been destroyed and how many people are affected by the quake. Nature can be quite unforgiving but surely after the dust settles the Chilean wine industry will pick itself back up."

It seems almost trite to think about wine so soon after the earthquake, but wine and winemaking was the life of so many wonderful Chileans, and we'll celebrate this lives the best way we can, by toasting to their health and safety with a Chilean wine.

Many wineries was just preparing to harvest their white grapes, and without power, equipment and most important, the human aspect that means so much to the industry, much of these grapes and the many efforts to produce them may go to waste. We wish the Chileans well and "buena suerte."


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