Winegrape gowers already are concerned about late ripening fruit caused by the summer’s cool weather.
Now more and more are waiting nervously this year as a significant portion of potential buyers put off purchasing decisions as they read uncertain signs about consumer demand for higher-priced wine, according to grape market experts.
“Wineries are being very, very cautious on the economy and future sales,” said grape broker Brian Clements of Turrentine Brokerage in Novato. “They’re choosing to wait until the very end to buy grapes.”
[caption id="attachment_24158" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Cabernet sauvignon grapes at Windsor Oaks Vineyards in Sonoma County barely show signs of ripening last week. (Jeff Quackenbush photo)"][/caption]
Wineries typically enter new grape contracts around the beginning of each year after they’ve taken stock of the previous crush, and in 2007 and 2008 purchases continued throughout the season, he said. Yet once consumers started to panic about their spending as the U.S. economy worsened in late 2008, the early North Coast winegrape buying of 2009 ended quickly, leaving some growers with fruit left to sell at the last harvest.