Top stories of 2012: Happier times for wine

Wine grape harvest biggest in yearsLucas pulls plug on Grady Ranch, plans residential developmentBasin Street buys back 17 Santa Rosa propertiesCasino construction begins in Rohnert ParkSMART construction beginsDozens of wineries, brands, vineyards change handsEnphase Energy goes publicWestern Health Advantage, other health plans enter marketExchange Bank restores financial health, dividendAirport expansion delayed as airline traffic hits record

Befitting one of the world's leading wine regions, wine played prominently in the Top 10 Stories of 2012 selected by the Business Journal editorial staff.

Two of this year's top stories came out of the wine industry: The near-perfect 2012 harvest and, secondly, a flurry of acquisitions.

But there were plenty of other big stories of 2012 in the North Bay, among them the stunning withdrawal of of Lucasfilm's Grady Ranch studio project; the return of Basin Street Properties' dominance in the commercial real estate market, and the entrance into the market of new health care insurance options for the first time in many years.

There were big stories in addition to the Top 10, such as the November acquisition of Novato's Circle Bank by Portland-based Umpqua. We even made news late this year when the Journal, Press Democrat and Petaluma Argus-Courier were acquired by locally-owned Sonoma Media Investments LLC. 

We look forward to more big stories in 2013. For now, here are the Top 10 Stories of 2012:1. Wine grape harvest biggest in years

The North Coast winegrape season was not too hot, too cold or too wet. Combined with steady demand for grapes and wine following two short crops, the industry found itself in a situation rare in recent years: The harvest was possibly the largest since 2005 and a number of wineries were eager to find room to buy as much as they could.

[caption id="attachment_64591" align="alignright" width="315"] Trefethen Vine;yards workers harvest chardonnay grapes before dawn.[/caption]

The first official tally of tonnage and grape pricing won’t be known until the state releases preliminary figures in early February.

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