The Preliminary California Grape Crush Report shows the total crop of wine grapes harvested in 2011 was 3.34 million tons, down 7 percent from 2010. Total tons of all grapes crush was 3.87, down 5 percent from 2010.
“The California bulk wine and grape market has tightened extremely quickly over the last six to 12 months. Driven by the fact that 2011 harvest was down 7 percent, the second below average crop in succession, and healthy sales of wines with consumer friendly pricing and taste.” — Glenn Proctor, Broker/Partner, Ciatti Company
"Based on the lower than normal California wine grape harvest in 2011, international supply will be looked at with great interest as their harvests progress. February marks the beginning of the Southern Hemisphere’s harvest. This supply could provide options to the short California harvest.” — Steve Dorfman, Broker/Partner, Ciatti Company
“Thompson seedless grapes crushed in 2011 were at historically high pricing and grape Juice concentrate domestically has continued to remain at very high price levels. While there are still small quantities of concentrate available in the states, the pricing remains very firm. “ — Greg Magill, Broker, Ciatti Company
“Overall production in the Northern Interior was down compared to last year which was one of the lightest crops in 3 years. The Clarksburg/Delta was up slightly while the Lodi region was down overall almost 6 percent giving that region its second light year in a row with some varieties such as Zinfandel down a staggering 25 percent. The Southern Interior showed an overall decrease from 2010. Demand for grapes in all Interior regions remains strong with spot market grape prices reaching their highest price in over 10 years. Planting activity is also the strongest it's been in a decade despite the lack of supply of planting material and the competition to plant other crops. No matter the size of the overall crop in the Southern and Northern Interior, it wasn't going to be enough to fuel the current demand.” — Johnny Leonardo, Broker, Ciatti Company
"The greater Central Coast saw a surge of buying activity late in the 2011 harvest. This activity has not been seen in the Central Coast since the 2008 vintage. With the overall crop down 26 percent in the Central Coast buyers are making a concentrated effort to purchase fruit early. Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir look to be the hottest grapes on the market with Chardonnay a close second.” — Todd Azevedo, Broker, Ciatti Company
“The North Coast grape harvest (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties) turned out to be one of the smallest harvests since 2008 and 2004. Crop levels were down by 13 percent overall and harvest dates were typically two to four weeks delayed. This was a culmination of unseasonable weather: rains during May-June bloom season, cool summer temperatures, and unforgiving early October rains. The smaller crop size and delayed ripening made for a challenging year for both growers and wineries and calls for brix enhancing concentrate and alcohol were common during the crush season. Brix and alcohol levels may have been down, but the longer ripening season gave resulting wines full flavor and colors. Spot market grape pricing and bulk wine pricing continues to be volatile as buyers continue to secure inventory. “ — John White, Broker/Partner, Ciatti Company
“Regardless of these numbers presented today; the real story is the demand that we see in today’s grape and bulk (wine) markets. We need large production and or more vines planted to sustain our current growth levels.” — John Ciatti, Broker/Partner, Ciatti Company