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Record wine crop in California confirmed by preliminary grape crush report

The State of California’s Agricultural Statistics Service released its annual Preliminary Grape Crush Report at noon today summarizing the size and value of the 2012 California winegrape crop. Prior to this release, Allied Grape Growers had estimated the size of the 2012 winegrape crop to be 3,885,000 tons – the most aggressive estimate in the industry. The actual winegrape tonnage crushed was 4,013,903- a slight 3 percent difference from the large estimate. The 2012 vintage provided a record winegrape crop, easily surpassing the previous record from the 2005 vintage by 258,737 tons.

In addition to a 4,013,903 ton winegrape crush, 99,111 tons of table-type grapes along with 270,085 tons of raisin-type grapes were crushed, bringing the total California grape crush, of all types, to 4,383,100 tons, a 13 percent increase over last year’s 3,874,158 tons. Of the total grape crush in 2012, 12 percent or 528,742 tons were crushed for grape juice concentrate production as opposed to wine, brandy or other uses.

According to the report, the average price of California winegrapes rose 20 percent from $639.87 per ton in 2011 to $772.09 per ton in 2012. This increase in average grape price translates to about $.16 per bottle in increased grape cost for California wine. White winegrapes, on average, increased in value by 15 percent while red winegrapes increased by 24 percent. The average value of raisin and table types also grew as compared to 2011, by 20 percent and 25 percent, respectively, driven by the increased demand for those grapes from the grape juice concentrate sector.

Individual highlights of the report include a record average price paid for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon of $5,067 per ton for high end wine production down to a record average price of $318 per ton for raisin varieties used mainly for concentrate production. Not everything set records in the report however, as the crush of the popular Central Valley variety Rubired was down from 2011 by 12 percent to only 226,504 tons.

Year on year production changes for major California varietals include Chardonnay, the largest single variety crushed in 2012, at 734,864 tons, up over 31 percent; Cabernet Sauvignon at 495,662 tons crushed, up 29 percent from 2011; Merlot at 334,485 tons crushed, up 17 percent from 2011; Zinfandel at 449,650 tons crushed, up 30% from 2011; Pinot Noir at 247,303 tons crushed, up 45 percent from 2011; Pinot Grigio at 195,365 tons crushed, up over 12 percent from 2011 and finally, Muscat of Alexander (primarily for Moscato production) at 78,417 tons crushed, up almost 20 percent from 2011.