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Harvest estimates defy earthquake
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(First appeared in La Journée Vinicole, Edition 216, April 29) Notwithstanding the earthquake last February, Chile’s wine production this year should only be slightly down on the last five-year average. Based on vineyard and weather reports, current estimates point to a crop of around 8 million hectolitres, 7.8% lower than the five-year average. Comparison with last year’s harvest is not significant because 2009 saw a bumper crop of some 10mhL. Whilst Vinos de Chile chair René Merino has stressed that, “earthquake or no earthquake, exceeding this volume is not a likely objective” for the Chilean wine industry, he nonetheless recognises that last year’s crop will help compensate for the estimated 1.25mhL lost during the quake, worth some US$ 250 million. Over the next few weeks, the Chilean enologist’s association will draw up a more accurate report of this year’s harvest. Whatever the outcome, the overall trend is undoubtedly upward. From a five-year average of 6.1mhL between 2000 and 2004, wine production in Chile has now risen to over 8mhL. The question now is, was 2009 (9.9 mhL) just a one-off or is Chile’s wine industry headed in that direction, bringing it more in line with Australia, South Africa and Germany and far in excess of Portugal.