California grape crush down slightly in 2010

on 10/02/11 at 9:20 pm

Wine

California’s grape crush last year totaled about 3.98 million tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, down 3% from the 2009 crush of nearly 4.1 million tons.

The preliminary grape crush report for 2010 said red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of grapes crushed at nearly 2.05 million tons, down 1% from 2009. The 2010 white wine variety crush totaled nearly 1.5 million tons, down 6% from 2009.

Tons crushed of raisin-type varieties totaled 273,577, down 11% from 2009, and tons crushed of table-type varieties totaled 123,753, up 46% from 2009.

Chardonnay grapes made up the largest percentage of last year’s total crush volume at 16.4%. Cabernet sauvignon grapes were second with 11.2%; the next eight highest percentages of grapes crushed were also wine varieties, except for Thompson Seedless.

District 13 among the state’s grape pricing districts, which includes Fresno and Madera counties and parts of Kings and Tulare counties, had the largest share of the crush at more than 1.36 million tons.

The average price per ton in District 13 was $262.55. Mataro grapes (also called Mourvedre) netted the best price per ton at $714.29, followed by Tinta Madeira grapes at $700.

Paso Robles’ Tablas Creek Vineyard produces its Esprit de Beaucastel with “a backbone” of Mourvedre, for example, while Madera’s Ficklin Vineyards produces its Old Vine Tinta Port with 60% to 80% Tinta Madeira.

At the bottom of the list was the humble Mission grape, renowned for its century-plus role in California viticulture but accounting today for about 1,000 acres, according to Winepros.org. Cribari in Fresno makes a Mission dessert wine.

Grapes produced in District 4, Napa County, received the highest average price of about $3,243 per ton, down 5% from 2009. District 3, Sonoma and Marin counties, received the second highest return of about $2,008, down 8% from 2009.

A 132-page PDF of the full report can be accessed through the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service website.

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