Nat DiBuduo predicts California wine grape prices will likely remain strong this year, but should stabilize after two years of price surges tied to global crop shortages.

“I would love to have significant grower price increases again in 2013,” says DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers in Fresno, Calif. “I also like the idea of price stability and fair pricing moving forward,” DiBuduo said.

DiBuduo shared his California wine grape forecast during the State of the Industry seminar at the 2013 Unified Wine and Grape Symposium held in Sacramento, Calif. in late January.

A record 13,400-industry members from 30 countries across the Western hemisphere attended the 18th annual symposium; 1,000 more attendees than last year’s event.

To help stabilize the California wine grape industry, DiBuduo urges growers to practice moderation in planting over the next several years.

“It’s important that California wine grape growers plant vines in moderation to reduce the possibility of overproduction which can lead to lower prices for growers.”

Several times, DiBuduo hammered a key point about new vineyard plantings — only plant vineyards with a winery contract. Even then, DiBuduo said, “Be careful. Read all of the small and large print in the contract, including the terms and conditions.”

Many grape contracts are “form agreements” written by attorneys for wineries; agreements designed to protect the winery but not the grower, DiBuduo says.

“Ask questions about any provision the grower doesn’t like or understand.”

He added that some wineries ask producers to waive their producer lien right in the contract.

“Do not waive the lien right under any situation,” DiBuduo stated.

Under the producer lien right, the grower has a lien on the wine product until paid. Allied was among the groups instrumental in bringing the lien right to fruition.

DiBuduo is a respected wine-grape leader with 40 years in the California grape industry. Last year, he received the California Association of Winegrape Growers’ “Leader of the Year” award.

DiBuduo spent much of his time discussing the results of a new confidential and voluntary survey which Allied conducted with California nurseries last year to determine which vine varieties were sold the most and the planting locations for vines.

The results strictly represent the 2012 nursery vine sales. The findings represent about 90 percent of the major vine sales in California by variety and region.

Survey results suggest that about 24 million wine grape vines were sold last year in California; enough to plant 27,000 to 36,000 acres, depending on the vine spacing. This number represents the largest vine sales in recent years.

DiBuduo’s PowerPoint slides listed the top varietals sold. Notably, nearly two thirds of all vines sold last year (62 percent) were red varietals; compared to about one-third (39 percent) of white varietals.