California wines

Grape crush hits record high in ’12

Vineyard manager says yields moderate, quality excellent
2013-03-25T00:25:00Z Grape crush hits record high in ’12By Laurie Jervis / Contributing Writer Santa Maria Times

California’s 2012 grape crush reached a record-high rate, 13-percent higher than the 2011 crush total and 1-percent higher than the previous record-high crush in 2005.

Tonnage figures — including the record-high rate of 4,387,086 tons — were released March 8 in the final version of the state’s annual Grape Crush Report.

Red wine grape varieties represented the largest share of the total grapes crushed with 2,292,201 tons, an increase of 19 percent over 2011, according to the report.

The number of white wine grape varieties reached 1,725,689 tons, up 21 percent from 2011.

The raisin-type of grape varietals, among them Thompson Seedless and Diamond Muscat, totaled 270,085 tons, a decrease of 28 percent since 2011, the report noted.

As far as volume was concerned, chardonnay grapes represented the entire state’s largest percentage, with 16.8 percent of the total crushed, and cabernet sauvignon was second with 11.3 percent, according to the report.

The 2012 Crush Report divides the state into 17 districts, with District 8 comprised of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

In 2012, the average price for all types of grape varieties reached a record high of $738, up 25 percent from the 2011 rate.

By type, average prices paid for grapes were red wine grapes, $884, up 25 percent from 2011; white wine grapes, $625, up 15 percent; raisin grapes, $319, up 20 percent; and table grapes, $272, up 24 percent.

In District 8, the three leading white grape varietals crushed were chardonnay, 432 tons; white riesling, 231 tons; and pinot gris, 209 tons. The three leading red varietals crushed were cabernet sauvignon, 1,501 tons; pinot noir, 948 tons; and syrah, 428 tons.

“We were pleased with moderate yields and excellent quality” from the 2012 vintage, said Wes Hagen, vineyard manager and winemaker for Clos Pepe Cellars in the Sta. Rita Hills, which produces chardonnay and pinot.

“The wines are very complex and delicious, even this young. I was a bit worried when I heard about yields of pinot noir in some North Coast regions like Russian River going over 7 tons (yield) per acre,” he noted.

“We don’t have that overcropped issue down here — our wines should be rich, deep and concentrated.”

Growers reported to the state that the average per-ton prices paid for the three top white varietals in District 8 were $1,265 for chardonnay, $1,129 for white riesling and $1,185 for pinot gris.

Average prices paid per ton for District 8’s three top red varietals were $1,296 for cabernet sauvignon, $2,562 for pinot noir and $1,288 for syrah.

The number of District 8 tons purchased, based on the top three red and white grape varietals, were chardonnay, 23,414; white riesling, 1,670; pinot gris, 2,273; cabernet sauvignon. 42,412; pinot noir, 13,371; and syrah, 13,609 tons, growers reported.

The Grape Crush Report is compiled and published by the California Department of Food and Agriculture in cooperation with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, California Field Office 650, in Sacramento.

The entire report is available online at www.nass.usda.gov/ca.

Freelance writer Laurie Jervis can be reached at winecountrywriter@gmail.com. Her blog is www.centralcoastwinepress.com

Copyright 2015 Santa Maria Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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