Chile's earthquake is expected to cost the country's wine industry £166m, with the winegrowing heartland at the quake's epicentre.

Wine trade body Wines of Chile said damage to the infrastructure varied between wineries, with bottling lines and irrigation systems hit in some places.

President René Merino said approximately 125 million litres of Chilean wine had been lost 12.5% of 2009's vintage and a £166m loss to one of Chile's most successful exports.

"The harvest has begun," said Merino. "The first containers have already been dispatched, although the speed of transportation will depend on the general functioning of the country's overall infrastructure."

Mainstream brand Concha y Toro reported that it had lost wine and production capacity but no employees had been killed.

In the fruit sector, early reports have indicated significant damage to packing stations and cold stores, with the table grape, apple, pear and blueberry growing regions worst affected.

The long-term outlook is still unclear as growers assess damage. However, they expressed confidence that the most serious issues will be resolved soon.

"Complete electrical supply should be restored within the next 48 hours," said Chilean Exporters Association chairman Ronald Bown. "All involved in the growing, harvesting and shipping of fresh fruit in Chile are committed to hold distribution disruptions to a minimum."

With many Chilean crops coming to the end of their season, there is not expected to be much disruption to European supply.

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