USDA Releases California’s Preliminary Grape Crush Report

A vineyard in Napa Valley.

The United States Department of Agriculture has released its 2017 preliminary Grape Crush Report for California. Based on self-reporting from the state’s growers, the statistical arm of the federal agency said the total amount of grapes crushed was 4,233,288 tons. This is up nearly 0.5% from the 4,217,154 tons crushed in 2016.

Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share with 2,242,984 tons crushed, but that’s down 1.6% from the previous year. Meanwhile, the white varieties, which totaled 1,764,154 tons, were up 0.7% over 2016. Raisins and table grapes made up the rest.

The average prices for all varieties was $775.09 per ton, up 1.5% from last year. Red wine grapes saw a spike of 4.6% to $961.76 a ton, the highest average price since 2009. But white wine grapes did not fare quite as well. The average price for white grapes was $586.73 a ton, down 2% from last year.

Chardonnay continued to account for the largest percentage of total crush volume with 14.5%. Cabernet Sauvignon was right behind at 14.2%, according to the report.

Napa’s grapes were the most expensive. Its highest average price of $5,204.98 per ton and that was up 11.0% from 2016. Sonoma and Marin counties shared second place, with each getting the highest return of $2,803.52. This is up 8.2% from 2016, the report said.

The 2017 Chardonnay price of $921.77 was up 4.0% from 2016, and the Cabernet Sauvignon price of $1,547.94 was up 5.3% from 2016. The 2017 average price for Zinfandel was $589.82, down 2.4% from 2016. Prices are through January 10, the USDA said.

Ciatti Global Wine & Grape Brokers noted California “recorded its second lightest Zinfandel crop in recent years, down 13% overall to a total of 364,188 tons. Although 90% of the total production comes from the interior regions, almost all areas saw a decrease in tons.”

If the law of supply and demand still holds, then there is likely to be a slight rise in prices for red tables wines from California’s 2017 vintage.

The Final Grape Crush Report will be published on March 9.

Published on February 12, 2018
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