What is in this article?:
- Wine grape prices still not sustainable for growers
- Sobering report
- Likely need for more grapes
- Variety acreage details
- Grower prices below break-even point in all areas of California.
- Napa prices $2,700 per ton lower than what it cost to produce them.
- SJV grapes closest to economic sustainablity after 100,000 acres pulled out.
- Demand for California wine continues to grow as grape shortages loom.
Variety acreage details
DiBuduo also detailed the acreage (bearing and non-bearing) for most of the major varieties.
• The draining of the tanks from imported bulk Chardonnay, most from Australia, is helping Chardonnay grape sales. 10 percent of the state acreage is non-bearing. Any growth in Chardonnay plantings is for lower priced wines. ”I know of 400 acres of Chardonnay that went in the Central Valley last year without a contract. That grower is pretty upbeat or crazy,” DiBuduo said. He warned that another displacement of California Chardonnay by Australian Chardonnay as happened in 2008 could be problematic.
• Pinot Grigio plantings have slowed. The question is will the market be able to absorb the 21 percent now non-bearing. However, Pinot Grigio may be cannibalizing other white wines.
• Muscat Alexander is the hottest new wine varietal in the state due to the growing popularity of sweet wines. Supplies are expected to be short through 2012, even though 25 percent of the acreage planted is non-bearing. It was the highest selling variety in the San Joaquin Valley last year and has spawned a two-year winery contract-driven planting explosion that will hit the market in 2013. “My concern is will we have enough Muscat. We need to make sure California has enough on a long term basis to supply that demand. If not, it will be outsourced outside of California. We want to maintain that market for ourselves.” DiBuduo said there are 100,000 hectares of the variety planted in the world and that could come into the U.S. as bottled or bulk wine.”If it’s a fad, we are in trouble."
• 12 percent of the state’s Cabernet Sauvignon is non-bearing. Supply is short but coming into balance with demand. Supply is growing at the low end. Implications are: plant cautiously and where it is feasible for the long term.
• Merlot. Not much action but “I would not pull out Merlot right now. I think it will come back,” said DiBuduo, citing only 3 percent of acreage non-bearing. Supply will be flat through 2014 with pull-outs and grafting over.
• 18 percent of Pinot Noir is non-bearing. However, plantings are slowing with new production through 2012, mostly for low end wines. High end Pinot Noir is in balance with demand.
• 26 percent of the Rubired acreage is non-bearing. Although classified as a wine grape, it is used mostly for red concentrate, and that market is hot. Red concentrate prices are at $12 per gallon. White concentrate is also in short supply with prices more than double of what they were a few years ago. The 2010 concentrate crush should come in at 500,000 tons, when the first crush comes out in a few weeks.
• The Zinfandel marketing will result in pull-outs, grafting and shifts from white to red Zin. No growth opportunities here, except maybe in Napa.
“I am optimistic about 2011, but it will not be a cake walk, especially in the coastal areas,” DiBuduo said.
DiBuduo did not call it a turnaround year — too many uncertainties for that.