From the Sacramento Bee:
After two consecutive years of light grape crops, and a dry start to the 2012 growing season, a standing room crowd of 2,200 packed the Hyatt Regency Ballroom on Tuesday morning to mull the state of the wine industry at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium.
On the upside, attendees learned the overall domestic wine market posted positive gains last year. U.S. wine shipments rose to 345 million cases in 2011, a 4.4 percent increase over 2010.
Now comes the tough part: Keeping up with consumer demand. Inventories of bulk wine remain at an 11-year low, due to a string of smaller-than-expected harvests and a shift by some California farmers to other crops.
According to Allied Grape Growers, a Fresno-based grape growers association, 3.25 million tons of grapes were crushed statewide in 2011, a 10.4 percent drop from the previous year. Locally, the Lodi/Clarksburg area crop was off 5.2 percent with 670,000 tons of grapes crushed in 2011. On California's Central Coast, grape crops were down a whopping 34.3 percent.
"It was not our worst year, but it wasn't our best year," said Nat DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers.