The California Agricultural Statistics Service released its annual Preliminary Grape Crush Report summarizing the size and value of the 2017 California grape crush. Allied Grape Growers estimated a four million-ton winegrape crush at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in January, so as confirmation of a 4,007,136 ton winegrape crush was made public today, few were surprised.
“Even though the 2017 winegrape crush was just over 4,000,000 tons, it still fell slightly short of what we consider an average size crop in California. Based on bearing acreage estimates and multi-year yield analysis, an average crush would have landed at or above 4.2 million tons.”, stated Jeff Bitter, Vice President of Allied Grape Growers. In addition to the winegrape crush, 131,884 tons of table type grapes along with 94,268 tons of raisin type grapes were crushed, bringing the total California grape crush, of all types, to 4,233,288 tons, a meager 0.4% increase from the 2016 total. Of the total grape crush in 2017, 8.5% (361,856 tons) was crushed for [unfermented] grape juice concentrate – used internally by wineries and also in the beverage and food processing industries to add color and/or natural sweetness to various consumables.
The weighted average purchase price of California winegrapes in 2017 increased immaterially (1.7% or $13.89 per ton) to $819.53 per ton. However, within that aggregate is the interesting reality of a higher average price for red wine varieties (up 5.1% from 2016 statewide) and a lower average price for white wine varieties (down 3.6% from 2016 statewide). “Certainly, we see the influence of red grape prices rising in coastal regions in 2017, which drove the overall average up from where it was in 2016”, said Allied Grape Growers’ President Nat DiBuduo.
Despite vineyard planting and removal trends in recent years, California’s Central Valley production rose by 3%, driven by above average yields of Muscat of Alexander, French Colombard and Pinot Grigio. California’s Northern Interior winegrowing regions were down by over 5%, driven by light crops of Chardonnay and Zinfandel, and California’s coastal and mountain winegrape crop was down just over 2% due to declines in production caused by summer heat spikes across a range of varieties.
Year-on-year percentage production changes for major California varietals included Chardonnay down 9.2%, Muscat of Alexander up 19.7%, Pinot Grigio up 3.5%, Sauvignon Blanc down 1.1%, Cabernet Sauvignon up 5.9%, Merlot down 5.1%, Pinot Noir up 3.3%, and Zinfandel down 12.6%. Rubired, a red winegrape used predominantly for its color attributes in food/beverage products came in 3.1% lighter than the previous year.
The real story from the 2017 winegrape crush remains the confirmation that overall supply stability is apparent in the California wine industry. With projections for bearing acreage to flatten out through 2020, any significant change in California’s winegrape production will have to come from Mother Nature alone.
from Allied Grape Growers