By Laurie Jervis
In its annual preliminary 2020 Grape Crush Report released Feb. 10, the California Agricultural Statistics Service (CASS) announced that 3.4 million tons of wine grapes were crushed, down nearly 14% compared to 2019, making 2020 the lightest crop in 10 years.
The fires that plagued Napa and Sonoma counties — in particular September’s Glass Fire — contributed to sizable losses across those regions.
CASS reported the total crush — including table and raisin-type grapes — was 3,542,038 tons, down from the 2019 crush of 4,115,413 tons.
The final Grape Crush Report will be published on March 10 and will include any late reports or corrections to this month’s preliminary report.
Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of all grapes crushed, at 1,813,964 tons, down 15.9% from 2019. White wine varieties crushed totaled 1,590,335 tons, down 9.8% from 2019.
CASS divides the state into 17 districts for grape pricing: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties comprise District 8.
The 2020 tonnage figures for four key varietals across District 8 were 14,409.8 tons of chardonnay; 50,266.6 tons of cabernet sauvignon; 14,204.4 tons of pinot noir; and 5,502 tons of syrah.
The weighted average prices per ton for those same varietals were $1,270.81 (chardonnay); $1,510.84 (cabernet sauvignon); $2,364.29 (pinot noir); and $2,106.82 (syrah).
The 2020 average price of all varieties was $674.72, down 16.8% from 2019. Average prices for the 2020 crop by type revealed red wine grapes were $791.33, down 22.4% from 2019, and white wine grapes were $554.74, down 5.9% from 2019.
According to the report, grapes produced in District 13 (Madera, Fresno, Alpine, Mono and Inyo counties; and Kings and Tulare counties north of Nevada Avenue (Avenue 192) represented the largest share of California’s crush, at 1,229,676 tons. The average per-ton price in District 13 was $314.25.
Grapes produced in District 4 (Napa County) received the highest average price at $4,577.62 per ton, down 20.7% from 2019.
The report revealed that in Napa, 46,903 tons of cabernet sauvignon were crushed compared to 81,810 tons in 2019, a 42% decrease.
In Sonoma, 28,771 tons of pinot noir were crushed, down from 47,178 tons in 2019, a drop of 39%.
Tons crushed of raisin type varieties totaled 42,425, down 30.5% from 2019, and tons crushed of table type varieties totaled 95,315, down 29.1% from 2019.
Laurie Jervis tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are her own.