February 9, 2018 – And, the results are in! The 2017 USDA Preliminary Grape Crush Report released today confirms that Mendocino County grapes are continuing to gain recognition with the average price per ton growing over 10% to $1696 per ton. Total tonnage for 2017 in Mendocino County was down 9.6% to total of 70,488 tons, with the decrease of production mainly in white varietals. The 2017 Redwood Complex Fire had very limited impact on the total grape harvest in Mendocino County.
The value of the Mendocino crop for 2017 is reported to be $119.5 million, down slightly from last year’s value of $120.1 million. The crop has surpassed the $100 million mark for three of the past five years. Demand remains high for Mendocino County grapes as the premium wine category continues steady growth, and the reputation and awareness of Mendocino wines continues to flourish.
Statewide the winegrape crop was average, with tonnage from the North Coast region which includes Sonoma, Napa, Lake County and Mendocino down an overall 8% to 464,765 tons. The decline of total tonnage in Mendocino is due mainly to reduced crops in Chardonnay (23% decline) and Sauvignon Blanc (14%) from last year’s unusually high yields.
Chardonnay remains the dominant varietal grown in Mendocino, accounting for 33% of the fruit harvested in 2017. Cabernet Sauvignon, the second largest varietal crop in Mendocino increased tonnage by 12% and represented over 17% of the total Mendocino grape harvest. Pinot Noir plantings are stable and represent 14% of the total crop. Zinfandel (9%), Merlot (7%), and Sauvignon Blanc (5%) are also commonly planted varietals at Mendocino’s 570 vineyard sites.
Prices on Cabernet Sauvignon continue to increase and were up 7% to $2197/ ton. Merlot tonnage was down 11% and prices were up 10% to $1346/ton. Chardonnay prices increased slightly to $1331/ton. Pinot Noir continues to be the most valuable of grape varietal as prices increased 12% to an average price of $3267/ ton and is widely grown in throughout Mendocino County.
Mendocino is well situated in the ever-evolving wine marketplace. The demand for our main varietals Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon remains strong. Mendocino Pinot Noir is highly sought after for premium and high-end brands. Zinfandel, Syrah and Merlot are stable varieties and attractive for the red blends that are gaining popularity.
As the millennials and Gen Xers continue to represent a larger audience, consumer preferences continue to change. Mendocino County is well poised to adapt and deliver great grapes to meet these demands.