The preliminary estimate is in and the 2015 California grape crush totaled 3,862,385 tons, down 7 percent from 4,144,534 tons in 2014, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
As in recent years, red wine varieties were the largest share of all grapes crushed, at 2,037,083 tons, down 5 percent from 2014. The white wine variety crush totaled 1,662,159 tons, down 5 percent from 2014.
Meanwhile, raisin type variety tonnage was 92,432, down 41 percent from 2014.
Tons crushed of table type varieties were down 25 percent from 2014 at 70,711 tons.
The Allied Grape Growers (AGG) cooperative had estimated a 3.7 million ton wine grape crush as had many other industry observers, just prior to the NASS crush report guestimate released Feb. 10, 2016.
“We can easily recognize crop years with small or large yields per acre, but the underlying bearing acreage base has only grown over the last decade,” said AGG Vice-President Jeff Bitter.
The grape leader added, “We estimate there are now over 550,000 bearing wine grape acres in the state. Even with short crops, we will continue to push close to 4,000,000 tons crushed annually.”
On wine grape prices, the 2015 average price for red wine grapes was $783.58 per ton, down 12 percent from 2014 while white wine grape prices averaged $538.67/ton, down 10 percent from 2014.
The raisin grape price per ton increased 6 percent to $247.52 and was 8 percent higher at $252.63.
In 2015, Chardonnay again accounted for the largest percentage of the total crush volume at 16.4 percent. In second place was Cabernet Sauvignon at 11.8 percent.
Thompson Seedless, the leading raisin grape variety crushed for 2015, represented 2.0 percent of the total crush.
Looking at production areas, grapes grown in District 4 (Napa County) received the highest average price of $4,328.75 per ton, up 6 percent from 2014. District 3 (Sonoma and Marin counties) received the second highest return of $2,440.74, up 5 percent from 2014.
The 2015 Chardonnay price - $785.87 - was down 9 percent from 2014. The price for Cabernet Sauvignon - $1,302.74 – fell 9 percent from a year earlier. The 2015 Zinfandel average price was $573.33, down 8 percent from 2014. The Merlot average price was down 5 percent from 2014 at $738.08 per ton.
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The Preliminary Grape Crush Report includes all grape tonnage crushed during the 2015 season. The March 10, 2016 Final Grape Crush Report will contain any late reports or corrections to the preliminary report.
The complete NASS Grape Crush Report is available online at www.nass.usda.gov/ca.