There’s still a bit of a hangover from the 2005 wine grape glut, but it appears to be fading, according to Nat DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers. This year’s crop is coming in average, at best, for yield, but quality is still the buzz.
“Yields appear to indicate a good, average crop,” DiBuduo says. “Chardonnay seems to be average in some areas, but off in the coastal areas. Grenache and Pinot Noir production may be off, while white Zinfandel appears to have a good size crop. Overall, quality appears good, from all reports. The crop is coming off early, which may be another sign of an average and lower size crop in some areas.”
The spot market for wine grapes appears to be tracking fairly close to last year’s prices in many varietals, according to DiBuduo. “Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling are still the highest in demand, while Chardonnay has strengthened overall. The higher end Cabernets from the North Coast seem to be maintaining the price levels we saw last year.”
Regardless, growers are still chasing the newest trend in the industry. Going forward, DiBuduo expects there will be significant grafting over to other varieties.
“I expect more grafting from Merlot and Cabernet to Pinot Noir, as well as Pinot Gris and various Rieslings.”
It’s not all about switching varietals, however. A portion of the industry is going to trees.
“The San Joaquin Valley vine removal companies are already booking jobs,” DiBuduo says. “As vineyards are being harvested, end posts are being removed to get ready for the bulldozers because of prices and costs of production. Even with these years of better production, growers are giving up vines and converting to almonds and pistachios when trees are available.”