An 8.3-magnitude earthquake rocked much of northern and central Chile on Wednesday, resulting in at least 10 deaths, mostly in coastal areas swamped by a midsize tsunami. However, in contrast to a devastating 8.8-level quake in 2010 that was centered further south, and thus much nearer to the bulk of Chile’s wineries and vineyards, this time around the nation’s wine industry was largely spared significant damage.
“At least at MontGras, all is well,” said Andrea Ilabaca, public relations director for the Colchagua-based winery. “Apart from one bottle that fell in my office, not another drop of wine was lost.”
“In general, the country is in good shape. Most of the damage is near the coast due to the tsunami,” said Max Weinlaub, winemaker with Viña Maipo, part of the Concha y Toro group. “Our facility in the Limarí Valley had some damage but nothing too serious. And nobody was hurt. But even in Santiago it was strong and very long, more than two minutes of shaking. It wasn’t fun.”
The earthquake struck September 16, just before 8 p.m. local time. Reports place the epicenter in the northerly Coquimbo region, which contains the small but emerging wine regions of Limarí and the Elqui Valley. One winery that may have been damaged is Viña Tabalí, located near La Serena in Limarí. “I just spoke to Felipe Müller [winemaker and general manager of Tabalí], and he said there’s some damage at the winery. But apart from being traumatized yet again, I’d say we are lucky on one hand and stronger on the other,” said Rodrigo Soto, winemaker with Veramonte in the Casablanca Valley.