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Wine News

California brings in big harvest as the world continues to move into undersupply

The 2012 harvest in California is a record year both for the amount of grapes crushed and the price paid for them, according to the 2012 Grape Crush Report (Preliminary) released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) last week.

The total harvest for the state of California was up 13% from 2011 at 4.013m tons (4.77m tonnes), with average prices paid for those grapes rising 20% to US$772.09 per ton.

Red grapes account for by far the biggest share with Cabernet Sauvignon at 11.3% of the crush and Zinfandel 10.3% but Pinot Noir yields were up much higher than the average at 45% more than in 2011. Chardonnay was the single largest grape variety at 16% of the crush.

Prices are up because of the poor 2011 vintage, which saw wineries fighting over grape contracts early on in 2012 with some offering growers higher prices for grapes already contracted to other wineries.

This competitive environment has driven prices for 2012 grapes to a record high — including a record price of US$5,067 per ton for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. That's before a grape even appeared on the vine.