Growers may be finally getting a break after years of suffering through a weak economic market for grapes.

“Things are improving rapidly,” says Mark Chandler, executive director of the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission at Lodi, Calif. “We see firm markets and rising prices for all varieties. Depending on this year’s crop size, we could see further price improvement and expanded planting contracts.

“There are significant new plantings of Pinot Noir and Riesling in the Lodi/Delta area. In anticipation of looming shortages, there are even some acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay being planted. Many acres of Zinfandel that have been farmed for white Zin are being converted to meet the explosive demand for red Zin. Also, due to the rising demand for Pinot Grigio, many acres of Merlot have been grafted to that variety now that we see a need to plant more Merlot.”