California's WineGrape Crush Down 7 Percent, But Prices Set Record High

February 10, 2012
According to the 2011 Preliminary Grape Crush Report, California's 2011 wine grape crush, from all varieties, totaled 3,342,689 tons, down 7 percent from 2010. Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of all grapes crushed, at 1,917,132 tons, down 7 percent from 2010. The 2011 white wine varieties crush totaled 1,425,557 tons, down 7 percent from 2010.

"The Crush Report confirms what growers already know, prices have turned the corner and demand for California winegrapes looks strong," said John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG). "Our focus is to make sure California growers are positioned to meet the higher demand and that we don't lose market share to foreign growers."

On the price side, record highs were set for both red and white wine grapes. The average price for the 2011 crop of red wine grapes was $702.70, up 12 percent from 2010, while the average price for white wine grapes came in at $541.11, up 8 percent from last year. The 2011 average price of all varieties reached a record high of $588.96, up 8 percent from 2010 and 3 percent above the previous record high set in 2009.

"The crush numbers mark a change in the cycle for winegrapes grown in California," said Nat DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers. "The time for moderate, planned acreage expansion is here while utilization of sustainable planting contracts will continue in 2012. We can expect grape prices to stabilize, even increase through the year, with better demand as winery appetite for grapes remains high."

The largest share of the state's crush, at 1,494,796 tons, was in District 13 (Madera, Fresno, Alpine, Mono, Inyo Counties; and Kings and Tulare Counties north of Nevada Avenue (Avenue 192). The average price per ton in District 13 was $337.19.

Grapes produced in District 4 (Napa County) received the highest average price of $3,407.56 per ton, up 5 percent from 2010. District 3 (Sonoma and Marin counties) received the second highest return of $2,081.12, up 3 percent from 2010. 

In 2011, Chardonnay accounted for the largest percentage of the total crush volume with 14.4 percent. Cabernet Sauvignon accounted for the second leading percentage of crush with 9.9 percent of the total crush.

The Preliminary Grape Crush Report is produced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and includes all grape tonnage crushed during the 2011 season. It also includes purchased tonnage and pricing information for grapes with final prices prior to January 10, 2012. The March 9, 2012 Final Grape Crush Report will contain any late reports or corrections to the preliminary report.

CAWG represents the growers of more than 60 percent of the gross grape tonnage crushed for wine and concentrate in California. The statewide association provides industry leadership to advocate for public policies, research and education programs, sustainable farming practices and trade positions to enhance the business of growing California winegrapes. For more information about CAWG, visit their Web site at