Change for Chilean wine

(Drinks International, May 2023) Women winemakers in Chile are working with a shi­fting climate and diversifying the country’s portfolio in the process.

A­fter wildfires devastated part of the agricultural industry in Chile, including razing a number of vineyards run by small grape producers in Itatá and La Araucanía in February (Drinks International, March 2023), winemakers across the country have moved forward with the 2023 grape harvest, bearing in mind these losses.

Climate change is a recurring phenomenon that Viviana Navarrete, chief winemaker at Viña Leyda, believes viñas (wineries) increasingly need to take into consideration. She says: “In addition to a long drought and abnormal weather, this year there were fires in the south-central and southern parts of the country. Fortunately, Leyda didn’t suffer the consequences of these disasters, although we were on high alert because, over the past few years, climatic conditions in Chile have been getting more difficult.”

While the numbers are yet to be confirmed, it is estimated that a devastating 80% of vineyards have been touched in these regions. It’s a time for solidarity, says Cynthia Ortiz, oenologist at Viña La Rosa in Cachapoal Valley. “The fires might have been put out, but so many vineyards have been affected either directly or indirectly, and thousands of hectares have been burnt. Many friends have lost their vines, while others have had to deal with smoke in their wines; this has affected so many families.

“Various fundraisers have been held around the country, and I hope they continue because it will take at least three years for the vines to recover.  e consequences will be felt for a long time,” she adds.

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