Beckstoffer VineyardsP.O. Box 405, Rutherford 94573, 707-963-9471, beckstoffervineyards.com
Impact conference includes top economist, Napa wine industry leaders
Economist sees three paths for Napa economyBusiness Journal Q&As with conference panelists
Bart Araujo, proprietor, Araujo Estate Wines
Andy Beckstoffer, president, Beckstoffer Vineyards
Jayson Pahlmeyer, founder and proprietor, and Brian Hilliard, president, Pahlmeyer Wines
Mario Zepponi, partner, Zepponi & Company
[caption id="attachment_60382" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Andy Beckstoffer"][/caption]
Andy Beckstoffer was trained as an engineer, but he's been training North Coast vines to produce world-class wines for four decades. He acquired what is now Beckstoffer Vineyards in 1973.
Today, the company is one of the 20 largest winegrape growers in California, farming 5,000 acres of North Coast grapes. That includes 1,000 acres of Napa County vines and 1,500 acres each in Mendocino County and the Red Hills appellation of Lake County.
Mr. Beckstoffer will be a panelist at the Impact Napa 2012 conference the morning of Aug. 30. He spoke with the Business Journal about how the 2012 crop has been faring, whether or not the North Coast has a shortage of winegrapes and the impact of any crimp in supply on grape and wine prices.
How is the 2012 winegrape crop shaping up?
We've got a crop which is different from last year. In Mendocino, we did not get bunch counts we wanted, particularly in chardonnay. After last year's spring, we expected bunch counts to be down in all counties. They're not way down.
At one point, we thought we would be 30 percent down in Mendocino County. I don't know why that has happened. It's been a great season, but that would not affect basal buds last spring. We've had almost twice as many heat units this year than last year in all areas.
We think quality is going to be excellent. The vines look good. (cabernet sauvignon) will be coming in, we hope, in late September or the first of October. We have a ways to go, but we will see what happens.
What are your projections for crop volume?
Twenty years ago, we replanted most of Napa Valley because of phylloxera. Grapevine life can be 20 years, and that means we will replant the county in the next 10 years. We expect in the next 10 years there will be a decrease in bearing acres. With new vines there will be an increase in quality but not in quantity. There won't be big crops, because we will be pulling so many grapes out.
What challenges and surprises have there been this season?
At this point, we haven't had heat spikes and not had sunburn with the new types of trellises in Napa Valley. We couldn't ask for anything better at this point. There have been a lot of conversations about vintners wanting to pick at less sugar. Last year, we were picking at less sugar because the crop was late.
One of the big challenges is we would like to plant more in Lake and Mendocino counties. We want to plant in Mendocino, but we can't plant until 2014 because there is no vine stock. Want to plant next year in Lake but can't.
We don't want to plant what we don't want to plant. Don't want to plant vine option No. 2. When you plant it once, you have to live with it for a long time.