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Brazil’s main wine region devastated by flooding

Rio Grande do Sul, the wine capital of Brazil, has been hit by devastating and unprecedented flooding. Amanda Barnes reports.

(Twitter: UNHCR)

Around 80% of the state has been affected by the floods, which have displaced more than 165,000 people and caused a death-toll of 107 people, at the time of writing, with hundreds still missing according to local media.

“The first regions to be hit were the valleys of Taquari, Central and Serra Gaúcha,” reports Lucia Porto, a Brazilian journalist living in the region and co-founder of Brasil de Vinhos told the drinks business. “Landslides came down taking with them everything in their path — from vineyards and
tress, to cars, houses and people.”

Vigneron and Director of Casa Valduga winery in Vale dos Vinhedos, Eduardo Valduga, adds: “We are facing a catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Rio Grande do Sul and Brazil. In the Vale dos Vinhedos region, many winemakers witnessed the destruction of their vineyards by large landslides from the highest peaks.”

In Pinto Bandeira, vineyard owner Heleno Facchin described his losses as reported in Brasil de Vinhos: “The flood passed 30 meters from my house… Only God could have diverted it from taking our house, which was the natural path of the water and inevitable with the force in which it was coming. Instead it took our vineyard. We lost a hectare of Merlot and half a hectare of Tannat, these vineyards have taken us ten years of investment to build.”

The true extent of damage to the vineyards in the region is not yet known, as the floods are prohibiting movement, cutting off cities and the Civil Defence is not allowing people to enter the flood zone — prioritising emergency supplies and rescue missions. The region’s capital city of Porto Alegre is also largely under water after the river burst its banks. Including Porto Alegre airport, which will likely remain closed until the end of the month, further hampering rescue initiatives.

Vigneron Luisa Valduga is fundraising to help people affected in the wine region and you can donate at the link here.

Amanda Barnes is the drinks business´ regular South America correspondent and author of The South America Wine Guide.

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