Chile has lost US$250m-worth of wine as a result of an earthquake that has claimed 800 lives, but damage to the industry is not as bad as feared.

As authorities begin to measure structural damage wreaked by last weekend's earthquake, trade body Wines of Chile said that 125m litres of wine are thought to be lost.  

Cellars containing bulk, bottled and aging wine were destroyed in the quake, which measured 8.8 on the Richter Scale.

Total cost of the wine lost is around US$250m, said Wines of Chile. In context, Chile's leading wine firm, Vina Concha y Toro, recently reported dollar equivalent sales of $684.6m in 2009.

"The wine industry has been affected, but after several days of working to assess its impact, we have determined that the damage is, in fact, limited," said Wines of Chile president Rene Merino said late yesterday (3 March).

"We are therefore certain that dispatches and compliance with commercial obligations will return to normal within a very short period of time and without major difficulties,"

Structural damage to wineries has not yet been fully assessed, although Merino said that bottling lines are generally reported to be in good working condition and that 2010 harvest will be unaffected.

No wine industry employees are known to have died.

Follow the links to read more on damage to Concha y Toro wine operations and Miguel Torres' facilities.