Chilean winemakers suffered a massive hit this week when wildfires broke out. According to the wine and lifestyle magazine Decanter, Chilean authorities have declared the fires to be the worst forestry disaster in the nation’s history. Over 100 vineyards have already been damaged.
Some of the damaged vines are incredibly old. Small producers seemed to be most affected, with certain winemakers losing multiple hectares of 120-150 year old vines. As Amanda Barnes reports, many of the areas affected are dry-farmed vineyards and adobe wineries, particularly in the Maule, where “controversial government-backed forestation plans have resulted in dense plantations of highly-flammable eucalyptus and pine trees.”
As one winemaker, who lost six hectares of 120-year-old vines at the weekend, told Barnes, “It is hard to believe that those vines, which you have taken care of with such love and sacrifice, are lost, along with part of the viticultural patrimony of Chile, because of a voracious fire caused by careless men. It is a tremendous pain to lose these ancient vines that we bought in 2008 to preserve them from turning into a forest.”
Fires are continuing to spread, moving into the Colchagua Valley, and have been declared a state of catastrophe by the country’s President, Michelle Bachelet. Peru, Mexico, and Spain sent aid to combat the fires, which are now threatening 450,000 hectares of agricultural land between Colchagua and Maule.
Read more at Decanter.