Chile quake update – first pictures

One can only imagine what it’s been like in Chile for the the last two weeks as it works to recover from the massive earthquake that struck the central-south part of the country, the heart of Chile’s wine industry. Ten more aftershocks jolted Chileans on Thursday, including those attending the inauguration of the new president, Sebastian Pinera. The biggest was a powerful  6.9-magnitude quake, almost as big as the one in Haiti in January. It’s always hard to generalize, but as  more wineries report in, the bottom line seems to be that while most  were affected by the quake on February 27, the damage could have been much worse.

The well-known Casa Lapostolle reported a significantlapos bottle loss of the 2008 vintage at its winery in Cunaco in the Colchagua Valley (a zone within the Rapel Valley), amounting to 20 percent of that year’s production. Beyond that, it said that loss of wine in barrels was less than five percent for the reds and almost nothing for chardonnay. Casa Lapostolle released the photo on the right, saying the narrow spacing of the barrels prevented many of them from crashing down and breaking.

Beyond that, the winery said losses in tanks were mainly in wines intended to be sold in bulk. The 2009 vintagelapost2, it said, is “completely intact” and will be released this May “to compensate for any losses  in the 2008 bottles.” Bottling and labeling lines will be back in operation Friday and shipping will resume on Monday. At right, picking up the pieces in Lapostolle’s warehouse.

Another winery, Viu Manent, also in Colchagua, said its vineyards were “very much intact” and reported only minor damage to its cellar. As for its wine, it said an initial assessment showed that losses “do not exceed 15 percent and mostly resulted from the collapse of some of our largest tanks, some barrels, and some bottled wine.” It said winemaking equipment is intact and ready for the 2010 vintage, which has started in Chile. Beyond its wine operations, Viu Manent said the greatest damage was to its tourist area, including the collapse of an old adobe building, which will preclude visits to the winery for a few months.

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