The Crush February 2023 - 1

Volume 49 | Issue 2 | February 2023
Article by Ted Rieger
After three consecutive short winegrape crops in
California--3.4 million tons in 2020, 3.6 million tons in
2021, and an estimated 3.7 million tons for 2022--grape
supply and demand are in relative balance, but industry
concerns exist based on economic and sales trends,
according to wine and grape market experts at the
2023 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium " State of the
Industry " session.
Allied Grape Growers President Jeff Bitter's theme
for this year's grape market presentation was
" apprehension " based on market and economic
perceptions. " There's a lot of glass-half-empty talk these
days, " said Bitter, who cited economic pressures from
rising interest rates, inflation, a potential recession, and
weak consumer confidence. Although three short crops
helped balance supply with demand, they also create
grower apprehension about whether a " normal " crop
(considered 4.0 million tons) is still possible, given that
frosts, fires, heat waves, and drought are now regular
events. Apprehension aside, in reality, Bitter said grape
prices are up a bit, supply is generally tighter, supply and
demand are relatively stable, and more grapes are under
contract with less on-the-spot market.
Bitter estimates 20,000 new acres were planted in
California in 2022 with a continued emphasis on
coastal areas for varieties and wines priced above $11/
bottle. Bitter said, " I'd argue that planting is a little bit
aggressive. We're seeing a slight uptick in bearing acres,
which is probably not called for from the sales side, and
bearing acreage could be back up to 585,000 acres by
2025. " Total statewide bearing acreage is already above
his suggested 540,000 to 560,000-acre target range
to keep supply and demand in balance.
Allied's annual nursery survey of
grapevine sales showed 18 million
vines sold in California in 2022, up
from 2021 vine sales of 16 million,
and 2020 sales of 15.2 million, but still
less than the 19.5 million in 2019 and 22 million in 2018.
Bitter said sales continue to move toward a balance
between red varieties (57 percent) and white varieties (43
percent), compared with 59 percent red and 41 percent
white in 2021, and a significant shift from 2020s 65
percent red vs. 35 percent white.
Cabernet sauvignon remains king of all vine sales rising
to 28.4 percent from 25.8 percent in 2021. Pinot noir
remains second in red sales but with a continuing decline
to 6.9 percent in 2022 from 10.4 percent in 2021 and
16.2 percent in 2020. Syrah and petite sirah are grouped
together to account for 6.0 percent of all sales, up from
5.9 percent in 2021. Merlot came in at 4.8 percent
compared with 5.7 percent in 2021. Bordeaux blenders
were 3.8 percent in 2022 compared to 4.0 percent in
2021 and down from 7.3 percent in 2020. " Other reds "
were 7.2 percent of all 2022 sales and 6.9 percent in
2021. Bitter said zinfandel and rubired are not being
planted at replacement levels for acreage removed, and
he believes there is more demand for rubired.
White vine sales are still led by chardonnay, the second
variety in total sales, but it dropped to 18.9 percent
in 2022 from 23.5 percent in 2021. Sauvignon blanc
remains second among whites, but sales doubled to
9.0 percent, up from 4.4 percent in 2021 indicating
demand growth. Muscats rose to third in white sales to
3.8 percent up from 2.9 percent in 2021. Pinot grigio fell
Standing room only during the State of the Industry

The Crush February 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush February 2023

The Crush February 2023 - 1
The Crush February 2023 - 2
The Crush February 2023 - 3
The Crush February 2023 - 4
The Crush February 2023 - 5
The Crush February 2023 - 6
The Crush February 2023 - 7
The Crush February 2023 - 8
The Crush February 2023 - 9
The Crush February 2023 - 10