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Harvest estimates defy earthquake

(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.

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