Vineyards ‘left to die’ in Elqui and Limarí

17th February, 2015 by Lucy Shaw

A lack of water in the northern Chilean regions of Elqui and Limarí is leading to the death of vineyards as grape growers struggle to irrigate their vines.

Cracked earth in the Atacama desert near Elqui and Limarí

Speaking to the drinks business on the subject, Max Weinlaub, winemaker at Viña Maipo said: “Chile is more restricted by water than space to plant at the moment.

“Both Elqui and Limarí are suffering terrible droughts and water supply problems. It’s been going on for three years as there is no melt water from the mountains.

Tamaya: one of the leading producers in Limarí

Tamaya: one of the leading producers in Limarí

“Winemakers are letting their vineyards die as they are unable to look after them. This is the worst cycle in 14 years. Producers in the regions are being forced to decide which parts of their vineyards they want to keep and are irrigating those specific plots.”

According to FreshFruitPortal.com, in late 2014 the Center for the Study of Arid Zones reported an 80% depletion of reservoirs and a 60% decline in mountain snow cover in Elqui.

The Northern Agricultural Society reports that 41% of Elqui’s 27,000 hectares of planted land used for grape growing and fruit production are no longer irrigated, while only 20,000 of Limarí’s 71,000 hectares are currently watered.

The report puts fruit production in Elqui as down by 45%, while Limarí has been worse hit, with production in the region down by 80%.

“Vineyards in Elqui that have been subject to drought have decreased production and in some cases have been abandoned,” said Andrea Sanchez Zwanzger, head of sustainable development for VSPT.

“This has mainly occurred in the valley’s high zones designated for Pisco and table grape production where there is a great need for water and high water-pumping costs,” she added.

While the grapes grown in Elqui and Limarí are used predominantly for Pisco, there are a number of high profile producers in the regions, such as Tabalí and Tamaya in Limarí and Viña Falernia and Viña Mayu in Elqui.

Weinlaub believes that the difficult situation in the north of the country is changing Chile’s wine map and driving producers to plant further south.

“The future for Chilean winemaking lies in the south of the country – climate change is pushing things in a new direction and producers are looking south to regions like Bío Bío,” he said.

One Response to “Vineyards ‘left to die’ in Elqui and Limarí”

  1. Sandra says:

    I just want to add a precious vinery I know in Elqui Valley, which is called CAVAS DEL VALLE. You sould taste their awesome Syrah’s and Muscats!!!

Leave a Reply

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

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

2 x Buying Assistants

Berry Bros. & Rudd
Battersea and Basingstoke, UK

Temporary Christmas Sales Support - Wines & Spirits

Harrods
Knighsbridge, London, UK

Head of Wholesale

Hispamerchants Ltd
London, UK

Sales Manager

Hispamerchants Ltd
London, UK

National Sales Manager

Maverick Drinks
Field based, UK

Regional Sales Executive

EWGA
Gloucestershire, UK

Senior Content Writer

Rude Wines
Ledbury, UK

Events and Trips Manager

Berkmann Wine Cellars
London, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
East Scotland, UK

Account Manager Central London

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

The World Bulk Wine Exhibition

Amsterdam,Netherlands
20th Nov 2017

The Drinks Business Green Awards 2017

London,United Kingdom
20th Nov 2017

The Global Spirits Masters Lunch

London,United Kingdom
1st Dec 2017
Click to view more

Green Awards 2017

Deadline : 21st October 2017

The Global Riesling Masters 2017

Deadline : 30th October 2017

Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more