Winegrapes made a significant comeback in the 2018 crop report for San Luis Obispo County, once again reaching number-one status for sales. Winegrape growers experienced an eight percent increase in overall production, pushing winegrape values to a record-high of $276 million. The 2018 crop report also reflected a milestone for the county as a whole with more than $1 billion worth of sales.
“For the first time in our county’s history we had over $1 billion in crop and livestock sales and that’s something to celebrate,” said Brent Burchett, San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau Executive Director. “I’ll say we’re excited about this growth; we’re excited to see winegrapes pick up from where they were a few years ago.”
Winegrape growing in the area can differ from farm to farm due to the size of the county and different weather patterns. Burchett noted that even within the same commodity, experiences between different growers can vary greatly. “What may be great here in San Luis Obispo, the city and the valley, may not be the same in Paso Robles which is our biggest AVA,” said Burchett.
The 2019 winegrape harvest kicked off last month after a wet winter and relatively mild summer temperatures. Harvest is running a bit behind the traditional standard, but multiple reports from growers indicate that expectations are calling for a strong year for harvest. While it was a banner year for winegrapes and other commodities in the county, Burchett noted that there are still plenty of challenges that growers have to confront.
“If someone’s listening to this and saying ‘oh, agriculture is getting rich,’ that’s not necessarily the case,” said Burchett. “We’ve got an increasing cost of production. We know that our labor cost, our fuel cost, all our insurance and regulatory burden of compliance, those are going up.”