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With roads out, Chile wine prices could rise

Mar 12,2010
Grapevine is seen near ground split open by the quake in Santa Cruz, Chile, March 6. [REUTERS]
If you are a big fan of Chilean wine and you’ve built up a stockpile, sip slowly.

The earthquake in Chile last month, which swept the country’s grape-growing regions, is expected to drive up the price of Chilean wine imported to Korea, according to industry sources. Chile is now Korea’s No. 2 source for grape wine imports after France. The most popular brands are Montes Alpha, Santa Teresa and Carta Vieja.

Industry sources say that the 8.8-magtitude earthquake that hit the ocean just off the coast of the Latin American country on Feb. 27 has caused significant damage to Chile’s wineries, destroying manufacturing tanks. Damage to roads has also delayed transport of bottles of wine for export.

“I have heard that currently in Chile, transporting wine within the country is a very difficult task, and the ports to ship crates of wine for export are not being managed well at all,” said an industry official, who said that the resumption of efficient transportation of exports would depend entirely on how quickly the roads can be repaired.

“Some Chilean wineries have been damaged for sure, but the more serious problem for now is that transporting the bottles is difficult,” said another official at a wine importing company here. “If we run out of stocked Chile wines, it will become inevitable for us to raise the price.”

Though prices of wine so far remain the same at retail, the price of grapes from Chile has already risen due to the earthquake. At E-Mart, a large discount store run by the Shinsegae Group, one 900-gram (32-ounce) package of seedless grapes from Chile cost 7,480 won ($6.60), which is 25 percent more that they cost at the same time a year earlier.


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]



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