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By Turrentine Brokerage

Novato, CA, April 10, 2019 – The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Final Grape Crush Report for 2018 has been released. It is a summary for the supply of the wine and grape industry, containing tons crushed and prices of wine grapes sold during the 2018 harvest. The Crush Report provides growers and wineries insight into the inventory position for the California wine business as a whole, and influences market dynamics for the current bulk wine market as well as the upcoming 2019 harvest.

Key Insights by Region

  Tons Crushed 2018 Tons Crushed 2017 Net Gain/Loss Equivalent Gallons % Change 2017 %Δ to 5Y Avg
North Coast     612,833      482,509   130,324  21,503,000 27% 20%
Central Coast     578,453      540,727     37,725    6,225,000 7% 12%
Northern Interior  1,107,542      976,217   131,325  21,669,000 13% 17%
Southern Interior  1,953,992   1,978,607    (24,616)   (4,062,000) -1% -1%

 

  Tons Crushed 2018 Tons Crushed 2017 Net Gain/Loss Equivalent Gallons % Change 2017 %Δ to 5Y Avg
Chardonnay        711,668        614,565    97,102     16,022,000 16% 5%
Cabernet Sauvignon        680,308        601,473     78,835     13,008,000 13% 28%
Pinot Noir        313,824        263,464     50,360       8,309,000 19% 30%
Merlot        258,942        255,196       3,747          618,000 1% -8%
Zinfandel        387,965        364,834    23,131       3,817,000 6% -3%
Pinot Grigio        275,608        252,440    23,168       3,823,000 9% 32%

General/Statewide

The total tons crushed is up 7% or 268,000 tons compared to 2017 and set a new California statewide record of 4.282 million tons. While only a modest increase over the previous record from 2013, the make-up of the total tons is very important. As Turrentine Brokerage has been consistently reporting, the increases were driven by Coastal and Northern Interior varietals.

  • Total Cabernet Sauvignon up 78,835 tons (+13%) 
  • Total Chardonnay up 97,103 tons (+16%)
  • Total Pinot Noir up 50,360 tons (+19%)

This increase in tons crushed is due to the combination of an ideal growing season and newly bearing acres. The end result will be potential opportunity for creative marketing by wineries to start new brands and/or invest in the growth of existing brands.  -Steve Fredricks, President  

North Coast

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon tons crushed increased by 34%, or 22,364 tons or 1.55 million cases of wine, due to a combination of the growing season resulting in increased cluster weights, some newly bearing acres, and some acres redeveloped to Cabernet Sauvignon. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon prices increased 5% mainly due to the high percentage of long-term contracts and contracts indexed to the district average price. The spot market demand for grapes in 2018 was not at the same fever pitch as a few years ago due to both the escalation of price in the last few years and the larger than projected yields per acre. We have heard many positive comments about the quality of 2018 wines and currently have a selection of bulk wines available at prices not seen in many years. -Mike Needham, North Coast Grape Broker/Partner

Sonoma County Pinot Noir accounts for 18% of the total Pinot Noir crop in California. As reported by the NASS 2018 California Grape Crush Report, Sonoma County Pinot Noir tons crushed increased 34%, or 14,566 tons from 2017 due to a combination of newly bearing acres and favorable weather conditions that increased cluster weights. The tons crushed are not much higher than 2012 or 2013, but demand is not as strong and there has been an increase in the tons crushed in Monterey County and other competitive regions since that time. Grape buyers and sellers have reported that quality is very good, which is great news for Pinot Noir lovers. Due to the tonnage increases in 2018, there are current opportunities for 2018 bulk wine. We are currently moving both bulk wine and grapes, with softer pricing than we have seen in a few years.  -Brian Clements, Vice President

Chardonnay in Sonoma County increased by 45%, or 27,260 tons, due mainly to an ideal mild growing season. To put perspective on the total of 88,312 tons, it is just over the large 2013 and 2014 crops. While premium varietals have been widely planted in recent years, Chardonnay was not necessarily one of them which has kept bearing acres relatively stable. There are outstanding opportunities for 2018 bulk wine at prices not seen in a few years. -Mike Needham, North Coast Grape Broker/Partner

Central Coast

The demand for Central Coast grapes slid in 2018. As Turrentine Brokerage has been advising, the market reaction to the increase in supply and slowing sales is a natural change in the supply cycle and would affect many varieties and regions, these changes are reflected in this crush report. -Audra Cooper, Central Coast Grape Broker/Partner

There is not any surprise in the total Central Coast production up 7% from 2017 and up 12% from the five-year average. One consideration when analyzing the Central Coast crop is the number of tons not harvested due to the size of the crop exceeding 2018 demand. That tonnage is not accounted for, nor can it be, without knowing weights. Had all of the tonnage on the vine been harvested, we may have seen the largest Central Coast crop in history instead of the third largest. -Audra Cooper, Central Coast Grape Broker/Partner

District 7, which encompasses Monterey and San Benito County, the largest Pinot Noir California Crush District, surpassed Sonoma County by 14,456 tons due to the mild growing season of 2018 and the increase tons produced from newly planted acres, resulting in a record harvest of 72,461 tons. As the state experienced a record harvest for Pinot Noir, the price softened for District 7 by 5% from 2017. -Erica Moyer, Grape Broker/Partner

As expected, the tons of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon crop increased 13% to 90,508 tons due to a combination of a good growing season and, more importantly, newly bearing acres. As we have been advising for some time, the market shift to excess was going to affect the Cabernet Sauvignon market. This challenge became apparent near the end of the 2017 growing season and throughout 2018 as well, and the reduction of $172.34 in district average price is a direct reflection of these challenges. One would think there is nothing positive to say about District 8 Cabernet Sauvignon, but that could not be further from the truth. Feedback from 2018 vintage wines has been overwhelmingly positive. We have active buyers with growing Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon brands needing good bulk wine and grapes. While there is demand for grapes, the current market demand is not yet high enough to absorb all available supply. Looking forward, there is also a need to make sure vineyards are sustainable. Growers will need to balance yields per acre with grapes that can ripen and provide wine at the quality and style to satisfy today’s consumer tastes competitively with competing regions. -Audra Cooper, Central Coast Grape Broker/Partner

During times of excess, our industry often becomes creative and innovative and some of our greatest accomplishments have been a product of this time in the supply cycle. -Audra Cooper, Central Coast Grape Broker/Partner

The district average for Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir had been on a trend of increasing price over the previous four years. In 2018, it decreased by 4%, or $130.85, per ton, a clear result of declining demand and increased available supply. -Audra Cooper, Central Coast Grape Broker/Partner

Lodi & Interior

Crush District 11, Sacramento and San Joaquin County, continues to be the largest crush district for Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, crushing 127,069 tons of Chardonnay to set a record, and 198,838 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon, resulting in a 15% increase of Chardonnay from 2017 and a 21% increase of Cabernet Sauvignon from 2017. Unfortunately, due to slowing sales and increase production, prices softened by 2% for Chardonnay and 5% for Cabernet Sauvignon. -Erica Moyer, Grape Broker/Partner

An estimated 900 vineyard acres have been removed in Lodi, as softening demand for Zinfandel continues as prices decline by 3% to $630.77 per ton. -Erica Moyer, Grape Broker/Partner

Generic whites in the Southern San Joaquin Valley experienced a decline in production of French Colombard by 28,404 tons to 299,908 total tons and of the Muscat varieties of 33,410 tons to 227,671 total tons. Prices have remained stable for generic red and generic whites. With an increase in demand for Rubired, there was an increase of production of 5%, for a total of 252,203 tons. -Erica Moyer, Grape Broker/Partner

About Turrentine Brokerage

Turrentine Brokerage, founded in 1973, serves as trusted and strategic advisors to growers, wineries, and financiers and specializes in the strategic sourcing of wine grapes and bulk wine from the major growing areas across the globe. Working with thousands of wineries worldwide, and with over 2,000 growers, this experienced team has negotiated transactions between buyers and sellers valued at more than $3 billion over the past decade.

Turrentine Brokerage is available to provide comment and analysis on this reportand its probable impact on growers, wineries and consumers. Turrentine Brokerage will have its experienced team of grape and wine brokers and analysts available all-day Wednesday, April 10th and throughout the following week for comments and questions.

 Contact

 Steve Fredricks  President  (415) 847-0603  Grapes and bulk wine throughout CA and global import/export
 Brian Clements  Vice President  (707) 495-8151  Grapes throughout CA, especially Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino & Lake Counties
 Erica Moyer  Grape Broker/Partner  (209) 988-7334 Grapes from the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, and Northern Central Coast
 Audra Cooper  Grape Broker / Partner  (805) 400-9930 Grapes from the San Luis Obispo and   Santa Barbara Counties
 Mike Needham  Grape Broker / Partner  (707) 849-4337 Grapes from the Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino & Lake Counties

 

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