CHILE (Coquimbo) – The earthquake with a magnitude of 8.3 and its epicenter about 30 miles west of the city of Coquimbo off the shore forced over one million people to leave their houses – at least eight persons are said to be killed. Another 14 aftershocks along the Chilean coasts were even noticeable on Argentina’s Atlantic coast. The region around Coquimbo was declared a disaster area by the government, even though a tsunami with waves of over 4.5 meters flooded the coast and the hinterland. Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean president, asked the army for help and sent it to the region affected. First, fears were growing that the wine cellars in this region had been damaged, too, but recent reports weakened them again.
Wine estates around La Serena, a coastal town just a few kilometers north of Coquimbo, report these damages to be minimal. Even further south of Coquimbo, the wine cellars located there reported almost no damages. However, due to the rampant chaos, it has not yet been possible to record all the incidents, as local media report. “There were cracks in steel tanks, other tanks were torn from their anchorages. Some buildings got cracks, too…”, first reports from vintners asked say.
The Coquimbo region is divided up into three wine zones. These are Elgui Valley, Limari Valley, and Choapa valley. Most of the areas are planted with the chardonnay, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and shiraz variety. This is also where pisco, Chile’s national beverage, comes from. It has been produced here for about 400 years. In contrast to the Italian grappa, pisco is not distilled out of pomace but out of fermented grape must. To do this, grapes called pisco are used, among them being above all grapes of the muscatel variety.
“The work in the wine estates can be continued without considerable interruptions. This is also due to the modern equipment and the high construction standards in modern Chilean wine cellars”, the national wine institute is quoted by the media. Even though in Chile the risk of earthquakes is one of the highest in the world, the population of the region was quite shocked, and the wine areas and the wine cellars there were obviously spared larger damages. (red.yoopress)