Residents watched on in astonishment as an estimated 2.2m litres of wine gushed down the winding roads of São Lourenço do Bairro in Portugal’s central region.
Firefighters had to intercept the alcoholic flash flood and divert the wine into a nearby field. There were fears that the Certima River could be contaminated, but local officials said they managed to avoid that outcome, according to local media reports.
Videos of the spill were shared on X, formerly Twitter, including by the @aweinspireme account.
Most buildings were spared, but Destilaria Levira said that the wine may have flooded the basement of one house in the town.
The company apologised for the spill and said it would cover the costs of the clean-up and repair.
‘Although the incident did not cause any injuries, we want to express our sincere concern for the damage caused in general in Levira and in particular to this home,’ it said in a statement.
‘We assume full responsibility for costs associated with cleaning and repairing damage, with teams available to do so immediately. We are committed to resolving this situation as quickly as possible.’
Destilaria Levira is one of Portugal’s largest distilleries, specialising in the production of brandy, liqueurs and grapeseed oil.
The company revealed that it is currently storing a large amount of wine as part of the government’s response to an oversupply ‘crisis’ that has gripped the country.
Official statistics show that stocks of red and rosé wines were 20% higher than average at the end of 2022, resulting in around 128m litres of excess wine.
Producers across the country have agreed to distil the wine in order to reduce the oversupply crisis, which threatens their livelihood.
The Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture has provided €20m to pay for the distillation at Destilaria Levira and various other sites.
The raw distilled alcohol can only be used as biofuel or for industrial purposes, according to EU legislation.
Two large tanks burst ‘stemming from the extraordinary government support measure to producers and wineries of the Distillation Crisis 2023 motivated by the excess of wine in the country’, according to the Destilaria Levira.
Oversupply issues have unfolded across Europe, with the French government spending €200m on destroying surplus wine in a bid to shore up prices and support struggling producers.
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