Chilean wineries are protesting at a proposal by energy company, AES Gener, to site a power generator in the Cachapoal Valley. Some 10% of Chile#;s wine exporters have vineyards in the Cachapoal Valley, and the valley accounts for 20% to 25% of all Chil';s $600m annual wine exports.

An estimated 95% of all French investment in Chilean wine is located in the Cachapoal Valley, which is one of Chile#;s prestige growing areas. Wines from the Valley can reach per case prices of $80 in comparison to the national average of $24.

The winery owners complain the generator will adversely affect Chile#;s image as a 'clean#; wine producer and could contravene the terms of the industry#;s quality-assurance certificates. Experts also suggest the plant could affect grape quality by producing enormous quantities of steam, which could affect the valley#;s microclimate.

Chateau Los Boldos General Manager Dominique Massenez said he believed the power plant would prove disastrous for the region#;s wineries. "When I came to Chile, I decided to invest in this valley because the government told me it was agricultural land. Now they are changing the rules and I feel deceived. If this project goes ahead, I will pack up and leave," Massenez said.