'Goldilocks' conditions produce ideal 2012 harvest

“Wow!” is just one of the superlatives used to describe the 2012 winegrape harvest after two difficult years for growers, said Nick Frey, President of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission (sonomawinegrape.org), at the Moss-Adams LLP Wine Industry Financial Roundtable.

[caption id="attachment_66110" align="alignright" width="324"] [6681] Nick Frey (left), president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, and John Wilkinson, director of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, gave an update on the 2012 harvest and prospects for the future.[/caption]

Other adjectives found in wine trade journals include “ideal, excellent, outstanding, fantastic, amazing, concentrated, balanced and bright,” said John Wilkinson, managing partner of Bin to Bottle, and a director of Napa Valley Grapegrowers (napagrowers.org). 

More than 100 wine industry representatives attended the roundtable, held Nov. 15 at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa.

According to Mr. Frey, 2012 grape yields are expected to top 220,000 tons in Sonoma County, up from 166,000 tons in 2011, resulting in revenues $100 million higher than last year.

Early estimates for Napa County in 2012 are between 160,000 to 180,000 tons. In 2010, crop size was 139,000 tons and in 2011 it totaled 122,000 tons.

“The quality of the harvest was superb due to ideal weather conditions that produced balanced fruit and great flavors,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

Overall, average grape prices increased in Sonoma County. Early buyers were paying prices above those seen in 2011 and demand for pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon grapes was strong, while chardonnay price increases were more limited. 

Higher prices weakened as the unusually large crop size became apparent, Mr. Frey said. Base contracts were generally up, but extra tons were often discounted from contract amounts.

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