Sunday, May 19, 2024

A ‘River’ of Wine Flooded the Streets of a Town in Portugal


The wine flowed freely in one Portuguese town over the weekend.

Two tanks holding nearly 600,000 gallons (about 2.2 million liters) of wine at a distillery collapsed on Sunday, sending a torrent of red wine down the streets of the small town of Levira.

One tank, open at the top, collapsed because of a “structural failure,” said Pedro Carvalho, the chief executive of the distillery, Destilaria Levira, in the Portuguese municipality of Anadia, about 140 miles north of Lisbon. The sheer force of the wine knocked over another tank, causing the wine from both tanks to flow out of the distillery and into the streets.

The authorities are investigating the cause of the collapse, Mr. Carvalho said.

It looked “like a river,” said Mr. Carvalho, who noted that there was not a strong smell in the air afterward because it was “good quality wine.”

The spill lasted for no more than an hour, Mr. Carvalho said, and the local volunteer fire department helped clean up the roads. No injuries were reported.

“We deeply regret the incident that occurred,” the distillery said in a post on Facebook, apologizing for any damage caused to the town and, in particular, a home’s basement.

“We take full responsibility for the costs associated with damage cleanup and repair,” the distillery said. “We’re committed to resolving this situation as soon as possible.”

The tanks that collapsed were part of an effort to address a broader problem: There’s too much wine in Europe. Portugal, like other major European wine producers such as France and Italy, is suffering from an oversupply of wine, largely because of a decline in both consumption and exports. The tanks that collapsed were being used to store surplus wine, according to the distillery.

In June, the European Commission, the administrative branch of the European Union, announced measures to support the region’s wine producers and reduce excess supplies. The measures are in place through Oct. 15.

Inflation is one reason for the drop in consumption, and a good harvest last year and continuing problems from the coronavirus pandemic caused an accumulation of stock. The European Commission estimated a drop of 34 percent in wine consumption in Portugal this year. A the same time, production of wine in Europe has increased.

Wine exports from the European Union have also declined: In the first quarter of this year, exports were about 8.5 percent lower than they were in 2022, according to the commission.

The surplus especially affects red and rosé wines from regions in France, Portugal and Spain. The French government announced this month that it would spend an additional 200 million euros (about $214 million) to destroy tens of millions of gallons of wine.



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