De oogst van 2006 is binnen in Amerika en de druifjes zijn geteld…
De oogstberichten komen binnen. Minder druiven, gelijke prijzen, Chardonnay wint met 16% van de oogst.
Wine industry weathers a tough year
Grape harvest back to normal in 2006 following a glut the previous season; prices, however, are expected to stay down
Grape harvest totals were closer to normal last year, new figures show, calming fears of another big crush flooding the market.
Preliminary figures released Friday put California's total grape crop at nearly 3.5 million tons, 20 percent below 2005's record 4.3 million tons.
The wine grape total — a key industry indicator — was 3.1 million vs. 3.7 million in 2005, down nearly 17 percent.
"This crush helped," said John Ciatti, partner in the Joseph Ciatti Co. wine brokerage.
"For wineries, it's good news. The supply excesses are balancing themselves out," said Steve Fredricks, vice president and partner in Turrentine Brokerage.
Still, with a glut persisting overseas and plenty of 2005 inventory on hand, Fredricks doesn't expect that consumers will be seeing higher prices in the near future.
Average prices for red wine grapes were up slightly from 2005, about $634 a ton. White wine grapes brought in an average $502 a ton, down 1 percent.
The Napa region, as usual, commanded the highest prices, averaging just over $3,000 a ton. The district including next-door Sonoma County was second, with prices averaging almost $2,000 a ton.
Those regions get a lot of the attention, and the tourists, but the workhorse of the industry continues to be California's Central Valley.
Chardonnay ruled statewide, accounting for nearly 16 percent of the crop. But red wine grapes dominated white in overall totals, with more than 1.8 million tons of red crushed compared with nearly 1.3 million tons of white.
Merlot, which some growers left in the fields to rot this year because of falling demand, was down slightly in volume, accounting for 9.6 percent of the overall crop compared with 9.8 percent in 2005.
Meanwhile, pinot noir continued its surge, making up 3 percent of the crop compared with 2005's 2.2 percent.
Fans of the movie "Sideways" will remember how lead character Miles mocked merlot and praised pinot noir, although industry observers disagree on just how much of the trend can be traced to one movie.
The relatively normal harvest size of 2006 comes despite a year of wild weather that went from cold and damp to simply scorching and also saw one of the latest harvests on record as winemakers anxiously waited for grapes to mature.
"The growing season and the crushing season were quite interesting and kind of entertaining at times," said winemaker Peter Mondavi, who oversees his family's Charles Krug Winery in the Napa Valley.
Fortunately, the weather stayed mild well into fall, allowing grapes to hang on the vines longer and mature.
"Hang time was fabulous. We love the development of the fruit this year," Mondavi said.
On the retail side, Woodside-based wine analyst Jon Fredrikson estimates that wine sales passed 300 million cases last year for the first time, driven by publicity about possible health benefits, better marketing and growing acceptance of wine as an everyday beverage.
"Overall, it's the best of times for the wine industry," he said.
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