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ECONOMY | 08-10-2021 17:03

Argentina’s vineyards can’t bottle wines due to glass shortage

Argentina’s famed vineyards are struggling to find wine bottles amid a global shortage of glass, in the latest example of supply backlogs hitting local production.

Argentina’s famed vineyards are struggling to find wine bottles amid a global shortage of glass, in the latest example of supply backlogs hitting local production.

The shortages are being exacerbated by a fire at a facility belonging to one of the few glass producers in the South American nation. Winemakers now say jobs and profits are at risk if they don’t bottle their products on time, while local politicians warn prices will go up for consumers. 

“We’ve never lived through a shortage like this,” says Mariana Onofri, whose namesake wine company is short about 6,000 bottles of the 30,000 it needs each year for its organic wines. “At a minimum, my operations are affected for at least six more months, because I won’t be able to finish bottling.”

The shortage of glass and its raw materials comes as winemakers struggle to keep up with the pandemic-fueled surge in alcohol consumption. Over half a million jobs in Argentina are directly or indirectly linked to the wine industry, according to the industry’s main chamber, Bodegas de Argentina. 

Wine exports from Argentina have also surged as a result of the glass shortfall, with increasingly more product shipped in containers to be bottled abroad.

On September 19, a bottling facility in Mendoza, the province on the Andes mountains where most of the Argentine wine is produced, caught on fire, dwindling supply further. Winemakers had already faced scarcities for years since there’s only three bottling factories in Argentina, and they struggle to quickly ramp up production with demand. 

The provincial government is asking national authorities to remove tariffs on imported bottles, warning that not scrapping them will accelerate inflation in the industry.

“It’s hard not to raise prices because when we import the costs will be enormous,” says Alejandro Vigil, head winemaker at Catena Zapata, one of the country’s most successful vineyards. Across the Argentine wine industry, “we already had a supply problem and the factory fire aggravated the situation.”

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by Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg

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