South America counts cost of frost

24th October, 2013 by Gabriel Stone

Producers on both sides of the Andes are reporting significant damage to their earliest flowering varieties as a result of the severe frosts which hit many regions last month.

Santa Rita Estates' Leyda vineyard, one of the worst hit areas

Santa Rita Estates’ Leyda vineyard, one of the worst hit areas

Among the Chilean vineyards belonging to Santa Rita Estates, which span Maipo, Colchagua and Casablanca, vineyards in the latter region experienced the most severe damage from the sudden mid-September cold spell, the country’s worst frost in 84 years.

“Leyda in the flat areas was especially damaged,” reported Sebastian Labbé, the group’s head winemaker for its Carmen brand, although he noted that irrigation sprinklers helped to create a protective “igloo” around many of the vines. Meanwhile in Maipo the producer managed to limit damage by using helicopters to circulate air.

Although the full scale of the damage will not become clear until later in the growing season, Labbé estimated that the country as a whole was likely to see total volumes fall by “15-18%” as a result of the frost.

“The main problems were for Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – the early flowering ones,” he reported. “Sauvignon Blanc flowers a little later so it was ok.”

Over in Argentina’s viticultural heartland of Mendoza, Doña Paula head winemaker David Bonomi suggested that “about 50%” of the producer’s Chardonnay had been affected. However

Heaters guard against frost at Doña Paula's Los Indios vineyards in Uco Valley

Heaters guard against frost at Doña Paula’s Los Indios vineyards in Uco Valley

he too emphasised: “we don’t know if that’s 50% of production,” pointing to the likelihood of new shoots forming at this early stage in the growing season.

Nevertheless, Bonomi indicated the significance of this frost for Argentina’s Chardonnay, which with 20,000 hectares planted across Mendoza, he described as the country’s “most important white variety.”

As with Chile, Bonomi confirmed that the freezing conditions arrived before other white grapes or the country’s flagship variety Malbec had begun to produce shoots.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Brand Ambassador – Santa Rita Estates

Santa Rita Estates
London or Hertfordshire but with flexibility to travel, UK

Sales Executive - Wine and Spirits Awards

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

On-Trade Channel Manager

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Trade Marketing Analyst

Delegat Europe (UK)
London, GB

Key Account Executive

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Senior National Account Manager

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

ON-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

OFF-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Judging Week Runners

Decanter World Wine Awards
ExCel Centre, London E16, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, UK

Retail Commercial Executive

Laithwaite's Wine
Theale, Berkshire

Wine Buyer

Conviviality Plc
Crewe, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 31st March 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more