California Has a Big Crush on Red Wine

The 2018 California wine grape crush totaled 4.5 million tons, up 6.2% from the 2017 crush of 4.2 million tons, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of all grapes crushed, at 2.4 million tons, up 8.8% from 2017. The 2018 white wine variety crush totaled 1.8 million tons, up 3.8% from 2017.

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The 2018 average price per ton of all varieties was $831.63, up 6.8% from 2017. The average price per ton for the 2018 red wine grape crop was $1,019.03, up 5.5% from 2017; the average price per ton for the 2018 white wine grape crop was $634.84, up 8% from 2017.

In 2018, ‘Chardonnay’ continued to account for the largest percentage of the total crush volume with 15.8%, though its days as the state’s top variety are numbered. ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ continues to gain share and accounted for the second leading percentage of crush with 15.1%.

While many consumers think of California’s North Coast as “Wine Country,” the southern San Joaquin Valley continues to be the heavy production area, as the region composed of all or part of Madera, Fresno, and Tulare counties had the largest share of the state’s crush, at 1.3 million tons. But the average price per ton in the region was just $318.38, showing why many growers in the region have been pushing out vines in recent years.

At the other end of the scale, grapes produced in Napa County received the highest average price of $5,571.44 per ton, up 6.6% from 2017. Though not all North Coast areas fared so well. While Sonoma and Marin counties received the second highest return of $2,817.92 per ton, the price was up just 0.3% from 2017.

As for varietals, the 2018 ‘Chardonnay’ price of $970.76 was up 5.1% from 2017 and the ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ price of $1,683.25 was up 8.3% from 2017. The 2018 average price for ‘Zinfandel’ was $600.21, up 1.5% from 2017, while the ‘Pinot Noir’ average price was down 0.9% from 2017 at $1,674.62 per ton.