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Wineries Celebrate: Grape Production on the Rise

Stellar harvests in Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties boosted California to a record crush in 2012.

The grape harvest this season was a boon to winemakers throughout Northern California, and the liquid fruits of their labor should make their way into wine glasses in, oh, about 18 months to two years.

"This is my 26th year of making wine and this is by far the best fruit I've seen," said Andy Podshadley of Novato's Trek Winery.

According to new statistics, Sonoma and Marin counties grew abundant, high-value grape wine grape crops in 2012, a boon to the industry that saw lackluster harvests in 2010 and 2011. In Marin and Sonoma counties, wineries crushed 266,101 tons of grapes last year, a 60 percent increase from the previous year.

The value of the region's crop grew 67 percent to $581 million, according to the 2012 grape crush report, which was released earlier this month by the state office of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

"It's always good when you get a good crop and get high-quality grapes," said Deborah Rowland, who runs Pacheco Ranch Winery in Ignacio with her husband, Herb Rowland. "We get consistently good years because of our climate, but this year was wonderful throughout Northern California."

Across the state, grape harvests were bountiful in 2012. California produced a record 4,013,904 tons of wine grapes in 2012, according to Wines & Vines. It's the first time the statewide crush has surpassed 4 million tons, the Press Democrat reported.

The Rowlands grow their own grapes on their property on Alameda del Prado in southern Novato. Podshadley, though, leases vineyards throughout Sonoma County and trucks in fruit to his downtown Novato winery and tasting room.

"All of our vineyards this year produced about one-third more fruit," he said. "Our 800 ton vineyard did about 1,300 tons. It's good and it's bad ... right now we're 100 percent full and I'm having to juggle tanks and move wine around. I've rented three huge tanks, but it's a good problem to have."

Overall, Trek yielded about 50 tons of grapes, which should convert to about 4,000 cases of wine, he said. That's up from roughly 30 tons and 3,000 cases.

Deborah Rowland said she had about a 20 percent increase in fruit production.

Sonoma and Marin counties were not alone in their success. Napa County recorded a 49 percent increase in grape production. The bumper crop there is worth an estimated $648 million.

Statewide, red varietals were up 19 percent from 2011 and accounted for more than half of the production. White varietals saw an even larger increase of 21 percent, according to Eat Drink Explore.

2012 Grape Harvest
Tons Crushed

 

Napa County 2012

Marin/Sonoma 2012

Statewide 2012

Statewide 2011

Reds

 

 

 

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

70,934.9

46,769.8

495,662.0

384,302.2

Zinfandel

5,358.3

23,107.2

449,649.7

345,168.1

Merlot

24,977.4

21,472.8

334,485.0

286,340.4

Pinot Noir

11,695.8

52,379.8

226,503.9

256,276.1

Syrah

2,954.9

5,116.2

132,190.7

132,190.7

Whites

 

 

 

 

Chardonnay

31,790.6

80,879.2

734,864.4

558,794.6

Pinot Gris

981.5

2,634.5

195,364.8

173,568.2

Sauvignon Blanc

17,086.0

14,787.9

113,146.4

79,074.6

Source: 2012 grape crush report

Grapes produced in Napa County netted the highest average price in the state. The rate of $3,578.79 per ton was up 5 percent from 2011. Sonoma and Marin counties received the second highest price of $2,181.88, a 5 percent increase from 2011, according to the 2012 grape crush report.

Grape Prices, average per ton

 

Sonoma/Marin

Napa County

Reds

 

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

$2,310.74

$5,098.64

Zinfandel

$2,417.70

$3,024.16

Merlot

$1,493.93

$2,661.70

Pinot Noir

$3,023.60

$2,484.52

Syrah

$2,148.79

$3,038.61

Whites

 

 

Chardonnay

$1,895.74

$2,363.06

Pinot Gris

$1,651.50

$1,913.94

Sauvignon Blanc

$1,417.96

$1,880.73

Source: 2012 grape crush report

The final draft of the 2012 grape crush report should be completed later this month.

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