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Chile celebrates the day of wine in a climate of discontent on the part of winegrowers

While commemorating a new National Wine Day this September 4, as if it were a sign of the conditions that mark the national wine production, the National Coalition of Viñateros denounced that companies buying its production still do not pay the one acquired in the recent harvest.


So far, the organization registers more than 150 producers who have unpaid the sale of their production. The reasons for this situation are unknown, although they assume that it could be related to decisions of the great wine business. The Coalition is targeting the Zúñiga and Zúñiga Limitada Agricultural Society, but at the close of this publication, Resumen received no response from them.

Announcement by Sociedad Agrícola Zúñiga y Zúñiga Limitada of purchase prices per kilo of Moscatel and País grapes. Harvest 2022.

According to Nuvia Ortiz, director of the Asociación Gremial de Viñateros del Itata, this situation is part of the accumulation of facts that show the failure of government policies around viticulture and raise again the urgency of the establishment of what they have called the Cotrisa del Vino, In other words, the creation of a State enterprise that buys its grapes at prices that reflect the value of the wine on the exporting market and, together with this, can vinify and market such production.

For its part, the Ministry of Agriculture, through INDAP, insists on boosting «buyer powers», that is, intermediaries who resell the grape companies grouped in Vinos de Chile, predominating among them Concha y Toro, Santa Rita and San Pedro, at the prices they impose. To this, authorities of INDAP have called “associative sale”, spreading that these entities are integrated by producers and, therefore, generate better commercial conditions for their parts. However, the assessment made by the winegrowers of these entities is strongly negative, since their activity has not represented in any case an improvement in their productive conditions, in addition to lacking representativeness for the sector. Last year, in a request for information by Transparency Law, the list of partners and directors of these entities, among other background, Nuvia Ortiz San Martín, reported: «Currently there are 6 associative companies (Moscin SA, Vineyards Quinchamalí Spa, Cuvas de Ninhue, Ecoparras Spa, Centinelas Spa, Coovicen), 5 of which were formed or constituted during the period 2014-2017, group about 133 members, financed and advised by INDAP and who are buying grapes in this vintage at 130 pesos/kilo the Muscat of Alexandria and 100 pesos/kilo the black country, like the rest of intermediaries not financed by INDAP and even less, since they do not pay degrees, all these low prices production costs that average about 300 pesos per kilo».

Faced with this scenario, the winegrowers conclude that the financing of these entities and plans has been worthless, because they do not solve one of the central knots of their problem: the absence of effective regulation of the conditions in which the wine oligopoly buys its grapes. Until now, this business has an all-round control of the purchase, establishing when and how much to pay for the kilo of grapes, without implementing actions aimed at safeguarding wine production, having as its axis producers. This purpose could be fulfilled by what they have called a Wine Cotrisa that, although its review was compromised by the current Minister of Agriculture, Esteban Valenzuela, still receive no response.

Until now, some of the most pressing problems of the wineries are related to the winemaking of table grapes, the addition of water to wine and the imposition of leonine prices on the purchase of their grapes, by the great wine business. The cancelled values per kilo of grapes fail to cover the cost of their production, causing an increasing number of producers/ as leave the activity and, with it, their lands are destined for purposes related to the agricultural or forestry industry, while such firms accumulate huge profits favored by the very low cost in the supply of raw materials. Each season leaves behind a collection of testimonies about the repercussions of this situation, such as complaints to the National Economic Prosecutor’s Office (FNE) in 2015 and 2018, presentations before committees in the Chamber of Deputies/as and the Senate, which have been insufficient to correct this injury. «In the 80’s we were about 34 thousand winemakers, then in 2007 there were only 17 thousand producers and the preliminary results of the 2021 census are frightening», they affirmed in an open letter to President Gabriel Boric.

Thus, this new National Wine Day, decreed by Michelle Bachelet in 2015, in reference to a letter from Pedro de Valdivia, dated September 4, 1545, requesting King Carlos V «vines and wines» for the evangelization of the original population, finds the national viticulture immersed and threatened by unresolved problems by the successive civil governments, including the current one.




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