North Coast 2012 winegrape crop hits $1.35B in value, 553,000 tons

NORTH COAST -- Many wine industry experts figured the 2012 winegrape harvest was going to be the biggest in several years and refill grower pockets after two smaller crops, but the first official tally of the crop released Friday suggests it was the biggest ever, even crushing the giant 2005 harvest in value and tonnage.2012 North Coast winegrape crush data

Revenue by county

Tonnage by variety and county

Average price per ton by variety and county

Winegrape tonnage totaled 552,874 tons in the North Coast last year, including 266,101 tons in Sonoma County, 181,183 in Napa County, 70,859 in Mendocino County and 34,731 in Lake County, according to the preliminary figures in the 2012 California Grape Crush Report.

Meanwhile, the California winegrape crop beat a number of estimates, by reaching a record 4.01 million tons last year. That's bigger than the 3.76 million tons of 2005 and 3.70 million tons of 2009. Grape market experts had been anticipating  3.8 million to 3.9 million tons.

"The crop was needed, and hopefully we'll be balanced going forward," said Glenn Proctor, partner with San Rafael-based wine and grape brokerage Ciatti Co.

Prices for excess bulk wine from North Coast vines generally have come down since the 2012 harvest and "panic" pricing during much of the season, but the relatively low proportion of new vineyard acreage in the region in the past 10 years should keep grape supply at top of mind for wineries, according to Brian Clements, vice president of Novato-based Turrentine Brokerage.

"Enjoy the size of the crop and the quality, but don't let this lull you into thinking the shortage is over," Mr. Clements said.

The crop in Sonoma and Napa counties beat the previous record crush in 2005 of 230,858 and 180,815 tons, respectively. Mendocino's crop last year was just smaller than the 2006 record of 70,866 tons, and Lake's was smaller than the 2007 high crush level of 36,321 tons. The previous record crush for the region was 505,342 tons in 2005.

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