Positive Movement in California Winegrape Planting Trends

Brian German Industry, Nuts & Grapes

The industry has been making progress in addressing market imbalances with a reduction in winegrape planting. Allied Grape Growers (AGG) has released its latest grapevine nursery survey detailing planting trends within the industry. The annual survey allows AGG to track planting trends by variety and region and compare them over time.

Winegrape Planting

“We did see a planting year this past year that was the least amount of grapes we’ve seen planted I think over the last four years. So, the trend is definitely down. It peaks in 2018 and so we are responding to the market,” said AGG President Jeff Bitter. “The market’s been poor and so people are less excited, less aggressive about putting grapes in the ground. But there were still some planted, nonetheless. We still had 15,000 acres put in.”

The winegrape planting in 2020 was lower than 2019, but still higher than expected given the current state of the wine market. Plantings put into the ground between 2018 and 2020 will all be coming into production by 2023. The survey highlighted a shift in where the majority of 2020 plantings were put in, with interior growers overtaking coastal regions in planting numbers. “Really the interior was similar to where it’s been it’s just that the coast reduced quite a bit. That’s why we had an overall reduction in the amount of vines planted last year,” Bitter explained.

Varieties of winegrape planting have been relatively consistent over the past few years. The survey shows that cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay were the most popular winegrapes sold in 2020. Pinot noir was the third most popular for new plantings. Another variety has also been making steady gains over the past few years. “We’ve seen an uptick in sauvignon blanc plantings that really started back in ’17-’18 time period. That has been a new variety to surface as kind of the number four contender on the lineup,” said Bitter.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West