Friday, 5 March 2010

We're donating to the earthquake fund for Chile

Our Chilean wine producers have been hit by the earthquake. The damage is not too severe; most wineries are modern and earthquake-proofed. But so much precious wine has been lost.

However the thing producers Viña Tarapaca, Don Cayetano and Adolfo Hurtado are most concerned about is that their trade might drop away with customers hanging back. Indeed, I just cancelled my trip later this month. I mean, I don't want to get in the way of vital work.

And we thought it sensible - at first - to put back our orders.

But then Becca Reeves our Chile buyer, after spending nights trying to get through to her Chilean friends, made us see sense.

We must help and raise their spirits, she said, by putting in our yearly orders NOW - "to be delivered when possible". They all assure her that will be maximum six months.

Right now, for every order of Chilean wines order we'll donate 5% of sales to the Chilean Government's relief fund.

Do order if you can. Chileans are lovely people. They are tough, hard-working and resourceful. They will come through - with a little help from their friends!

Becca has sent an email to all our customers – here’s what she said:

My name is Becca Reeves and I am Laithwaites Chilean wine buyer. I’m writing to you today in reaction to the devastating effects of last Saturday’s earthquake in Chile.

The earthquake struck in the heart of Chile’s winemaking country – an area I know well from many buying trips there.

Like, for example, Luis Felipe Edwards (or Don Cayetano as you may know him better). I managed to speak to him yesterday on a crackly line to find out if he and his family are OK. They are. But their house was destroyed and some of their great wine has disappeared into the ground.

Luis Felipe was remarkably upbeat and at pains to assure me that the harvest (due to start right now in Chile) would still go ahead. He said his vineyards workers and cellar hands were determined to keep working despite the chaos around them.

I was astonished and said so to Luis Felipe. He told me that the best way to rebuild Chile right now is to carry on as normal and keep people in work. Luis Felipe was concerned that people would want to give Chile ‘some space’, hold off ordering and, as a result, the country would lose income it now desperately needs.

So, this month I am asking you to support our winemakers in Chile - their families and the families of their employees. Chilean wines these days are of impeccable quality and the range is staggering – the most varied in the world (OK, I am bit biased!) – there’s plenty to choose from to suit your palate and budget.

In return, Laithwaites will donate 5% of sales of all Chilean wine sold during March to the Chilean Embassy’s Earthquake Appeal Fund.

I hope that when you think about buying your wine this month you will think of our friends in Chile and help raise as much as we can for them – they really need your support right now.

Thanks for reading




  1. Did Becca really write that? Or did the marketing team produce it for her to sign off?

  2. Well intentioned as this is, this is totally tastless and smacks more of an attempt to fill your boots than donate 5%. All your profits on the wine would be more appropriate!

    Whoever wrote the copy should be told to rewrite it so that it doesnt sound as though you are trying to cash in on someone else's crisis

  3. Chris Hambleton8 March 2010 at 10:00


    I received Becca's e-mail and I have to say that it comes across with something of a mixed message. Read it one way and it is a well-intentioned plea to help deserving businesses in South America who have been affected by a natural disaster. i am sure that is how this was intended.

    Read it another way however and the wording seems to suggest something rather less charitable, it comes across as being a marketing drive for sales of Laithwaites CHilean range and a 'buy now while you still can' message, very similar to some of laithwaites' other mail shots. This is not helped by the hyperlink provided at the bottom of the e-mail (not included above) to access your Chilean range straight away. It almost seems to suggest that we should rush to order Chilean wines right now and not expect to get them for 6 months, although i realise that is not quite what is being said.

    I also think that 5% is perhaps not as generous as it could be. Given the size of your company and the margins involved, I think if you truly wanted to help your suppliers and allow your customers to make a meaningful difference, you could offer to donate all profits from Chilean wine sales for the next month.

    if you were to do this, you would be seen to be being very generous, of course give exposure of the Chilean wines you carry to the wine-buyuing public, but most of all, given the size of your cutomer base, make a significant amount of money available to help Chile.

    Finally of course you would be clearly seen to not be making any profit at all from the situation.

  4. Thank you for telling me what you think. I have read your comments with surprise and interest. I have just posted up my blog today, which I hope helps to explain what we did and why.

  5. Chris Hambleton8 March 2010 at 18:18

    Thanks Tony, a much appreciated clarification.

  6. I am also surprised at the reaction from this email and Tony's blog.

    Most of us live comfortable lives that are not routinely touched by devastating events like earthquakes. To support Chilean producers during a difficult patch could not be described as a hardship. And what I have read on Tony’s blog could not be described as a hard sell.

    5% to the Chilean earthquake appeal will make a difference. I have to disagree that this is a tasteless appeal. Rather I think it is an attempt to help businesses that work hard to produce excellent quality wines that we enjoy at a reasonable price. I’m staggered that there isn't more recognition for the high quality of life we have been blessed with, and support efforts such as this.

  7. Tony,

    5% of all Chilean sales over the next 5 years would be a start.

  8. Thank you Caroline. Appreciate that. How are you?