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Monday, February 10, 2014, 2:09 pm

North Coast winegrape crop in 2013 sets new records

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    Workers empty tubs of cabernet sauvignon grapes picked before dawn at Trefethen Family Vineyards’ Hillspring Vineyard in Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll district on Oct. 9.

    The size and value of the winegrape crop in the North Coast reached new records, crushing even the record-scale 2012 crop, according to the first release of the state’s tally of the harvest released Monday.

    North Coast crop by the numbers

    Overall, the North Coast had about a 1 percent increase in tonnage to 562,000 tons, equating to more than 400,000 more cases of wine, based on 165–170 gallons of wine per ton of grapes, according to preliminary figures from the California Grape Crush Report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service and California Department of Agriculture.

    “That gives wineries more cases to sell in markets that are growing,” said Brian Clements, senior partner and winegrape broker for Novato-based Turrentine Brokerage. “We have them when we need them. Mother Nature often gives us crops when we do not need them.”

    A 15,000-ton increase from Lake and Mendocino counties and a slight uptick from Sonoma County last year offset a 5.5 percent drop — 10,000 tons — in Napa County tonnage (see the table of North Coast tonnage below). Sonoma County last year reached 268,000 tons, led by a 7.0 percent increase to 87,000 tons for its chief variety, chardonnay.

    Napa County tonnage of nearly 173,000 last year was dampened by a significant drop in production — down 8.1 percent, or nearly 5,800 tons, to nearly 66,000 tons  — for the chief county variety, cabernet sauvignon. Sonoma County also had a drop cab tonnage of 7.1 percent, or nearly 4,700 tons, to almost 44,000 tons. That was despite new plantings of cab in Lake and Mendocino counties, which had tonnage growth of about 17 percent last year, or 3,400 more tons.

    Such plantings helped cab uproot pinot noir as Mendocino County’s second-largest winegrape variety, up 1,400 tons from 2012 to nearly 10,000 tons last year, according to the Mendocino WineGrowers trade group.

    The outcome was the equivalent reduction in higher-end North Coast cab of about 400,000 cases in wine, coming when sales of finer cab are growing rapidly nationwide.

    “We were a little surprised to see a big drop in merlot and cab in Sonoma,” said Greg Livengood, president of San Rafael-based wine and grape brokerage Ciatti Co. “Pinot noir was good in Sonoma — up a couple of percent. Chardonnay was big, but it may be a little bit long [in bulk-wine supply] in Sonoma.

    Though the weighted-average price of Napa County grapes increased 3.6 percent over the year to $3,608 a ton (see the table of North Coast prices below), the drop in tonnage led to a 2.0 percent drop in the value to $624.1 million (see the table on winegrape crop values below).

    Beyond Napa County, North Coast grape prices rose overall. The county average rose 3.5 percent for Sonoma County to $2,221 a ton in Sonoma County, 0.9 percent to $1,419 in Mendocino County and 2.0 percent to $1,412 in Lake County.

    The North Coast appellation also includes premium-quality vineyards in western Solano County, but estimates of tonnage and pricing for those subappellations are challenging to distinguish in state figures from sales and pricing of grapes grown in the eastern areas of the county and bound for high-volume, lower-priced wines from the Central Valley.

    Including all Solano tonnage would boost the 2013 North Coast crush to 583,000 tons in 2013, up about 1 percent from 577,000 tons in 2012.

    The winegrape crop statewide increased 5.3 percent last year in tonnage to 4.23 million tons, topping the previous record of 4.02 million tons of 2012.

    “Everyone expected it to be equal to or slightly larger than 2012,” Mr. Livengood said.

    That gives the state more than 14 million more gallons of wine from the 2013 crush.

    “I think this continues to show that 4 million tons of winegrapes is the new floor in California,” Mr. Clements said.

    The value of the winegrapes statewinde was $3.17 billion, up 1.2 percent based a weighted-average price of $749 a ton. That price was down 3.8 percent from 2012.

    Final figures from the 2013 crush are set for release March 10.

    North Coast winegrape tonnage

    Variety Region prelim. 2013 equiv. chg. in cases chg. chg. 2012
    Chardonnay Mendocino 28,184 256,857 3,736 15.3% 24,448
      Lake 2,292 38,892 566 32.8% 1,726
      Sonoma 87,344 394,680 5,741 7.0% 81,603
      Napa 30,776 -80,341 -1,169 -3.7% 31,945
      North Coast* 148,596 610,088 8,874 6.4% 139,722
    Pinot Gris/ Mendocino 578 2,214 32 5.9% 546
    Pinot Grigio Lake 637 11,158 162 34.2% 475
      Sonoma 2,771 4,840 70 2.6% 2,701
      Napa 669 -22,550 -328 -32.9% 997
      North Coast* 4,656 -4,338 -63 -1.3% 4,719
    Sauv. Blanc Mendocino 4,235 67,616 984 30.2% 3,252
      Lake 12,894 295,749 4,302 50.1% 8,592
      Sonoma 19,320 148,328 2,158 12.6% 17,162
      Napa 17,974 217,841 3,169 21.4% 14,806
      North Coast* 54,423 729,534 10,611 24.2% 43,812
    Cab. Sauv. Mendocino 9,668 97,536 1,419 17.2% 8,249
      Lake 14,039 140,724 2,047 17.1% 11,992
      Sonoma 43,730 -238,205 -3,465 -7.3% 47,194
      Napa 65,757 -396,014 -5,760 -8.1% 71,517
      North Coast* 133,193 -395,959 -5,759 -4.1% 138,953
    Merlot Mendocino 7,721 45,011 655 9.3% 7,066
      Lake 2,083 33,578 488 30.6% 1,595
      Sonoma 18,662 -203,892 -2,966 -13.7% 21,628
      Napa 20,843 -309,602 -4,503 -17.8% 25,346
      North Coast* 49,309 -434,906 -6,326 -11.4% 55,635
    Pinot Noir Mendocino 8,727 4,758 69 0.8% 8,657
      Lake 252 -543 -8 -3.0% 260
      Sonoma 54,142 92,091 1,340 2.5% 52,802
      Napa 11,390 -48,015 -698 -5.8% 12,089
      North Coast* 74,511 48,290 702 1.0% 73,808
    Syrah Mendocino 2,721 8,202 119 4.6% 2,602
      Lake 1,185 -4,881 -71 -5.7% 1,256
      Sonoma 4,770 -33,921 -493 -9.4% 5,264
      Napa 2,758 -16,053 -234 -7.8% 2,992
      North Coast* 11,435 -46,654 -679 -5.6% 12,114
    Zinfandel Mendocino 6,913 -85,126 -1,238 -15.2% 8,151
      Lake 2,999 -16,486 -240 -7.4% 3,239
      Sonoma 19,995 -83,112 -1,209 -5.7% 21,204
      Napa 5,275 -8,965 -130 -2.4% 5,405
      North Coast* 35,182 -193,689 -2,817 -7.4% 37,999
    Total Mendocino 77,709 454,699 6,614 9.3% 71,095
      Lake 43,210 576,606 8,387 24.1% 34,823
      Sonoma 268,140 70,544 1,026 0.4% 267,114
      Napa 172,973 -687,926 -10,006 -5.5% 182,979
      North Coast* 562,031 413,923 6,021 1.1% 556,011
      Statewide 4,230,567 14,597,667 212,330 5.3% 4,018,237
    Source: California Grape Crush Report, table 2. Note: 165 gallons of wine per ton, 2.4 gallons of wine per 9-liter case. *North Coast also includes part of Solano County, not included in this summation.

    Five-year average tonnage

    Region Tons
    Mendocino County 66,330
    Lake County 35,159
    Sonoma County 221,309
    Napa County 151,857
    California 3,777,555
    Source: California Grape Crush Report, table 2, 2008–2013.

    North Coast winegrape prices per ton

    Variety Region prelim. 2013 chg. chg. 2012
    Chardonnay Mendocino $1,292 $23 1.9% $1,269
      Lake $1,213 -$50 -3.9% $1,263
      Sonoma $1,920 $41 2.2% $1,879
      Napa $2,374 $114 5.1% $2,260
    Pinot Grigio Mendocino $1,400 $1 0.1% $1,399
      Lake $600 -$300 -33.3% $900
      Sonoma $1,647 $22 1.3% $1,625
      Napa $1,670 -$227 -12.0% $1,897
    Sauv. Blanc Mendocino $1,174 -$11 -0.9% $1,184
      Lake $1,057 $59 5.9% $998
      Sonoma $1,476 $57 4.0% $1,419
      Napa $1,884 $44 2.4% $1,841
    Cab. Sauv. Mendocino $1,682 $85 5.3% $1,597
      Lake $1,713 $101 6.3% $1,612
      Sonoma $2,469 $217 9.6% $2,252
      Napa $5,423 $421 8.4% $5,001
    Merlot Mendocino $1,212 $40 3.4% $1,172
      Lake $1,237 $53 4.4% $1,184
      Sonoma $1,605 $136 9.2% $1,469
      Napa $2,715 $159 6.2% $2,557
    Pinot Noir Mendocino $2,502 -$70 -2.7% $2,572
      Lake $1,275 -$138 -9.8% $1,414
      Sonoma $3,095 $109 3.7% $2,985
      Napa $2,414 -$24 -1.0% $2,438
    Syrah Mendocino $1,281 $12 0.9% $1,270
      Lake $1,357 -$27 -1.9% $1,384
      Sonoma $2,299 $182 8.6% $2,117
      Napa $3,060 $34 1.1% $3,026
    Zinfandel Mendocino $1,453 $16 1.1% $1,437
      Lake $1,466 -$68 -4.4% $1,534
      Sonoma $2,514 $119 5.0% $2,394
      Napa $3,155 $126 4.2% $3,029
    Totals Mendocino $1,419 $13 0.9% $1,406
      Lake $1,412 $27 2.0% $1,385
      Sonoma $2,221 $74 3.5% $2,147
      Napa $3,608 $127 3.6% $3,482
      Statewide $749 -$30 -3.8% $779
    Source: California Grape Crush Report, table 10.

    North Coast winegrape revenue

    Region prelim. 2013 chg. chg. 2012
    Mendocino $110,255,435 $10,315,912 10.3% $99,939,523
    Lake $61,004,169 $12,789,078 26.5% $48,215,091
    Sonoma $595,568,435 $22,069,550 3.8% $573,498,886
    Napa $624,140,492 -$12,929,477 -2.0% $637,069,969
    North Coast* $1,390,968,531 $32,245,063 2.4% $1,358,723,468
    Statewide $3,168,948,442 $38,701,481 1.2% $3,130,246,961
    Source: California Grape Crush Report, tables 2 and 10. *North Coast also includes part of Solano County, not included in this summation.

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