The Crush - November 2021 - 1

Volume 48 Issue 11 November 2021
2021 Winegrape Harvest, Market Trends
By Ted Rieger
Allied Grape Growers President Jeff Bitter estimates California's
2021 winegrape harvest at 3.6-3.7 million tons, well below the
statewide average of 4 million tons and the record 2018 crop of
4.3 million tons. The crop will still surpass 2020's 3.4 million tons
that was short due to wildfire and smoke impacts that led to
unsold grapes. While recent short crops have improved market
balance and increased grape demand - and earlier contract
activity and better prices are anticipated - supply chain issues
related to shipping, labor and supplies have created higher
production costs for growers and wineries.
One factor contributing to the smaller 2021 crop was low
precipitation and drought conditions resulting in smaller
grape clusters and berries, and less irrigation water available
to maximize yields. Bitter said some Central Valley growers
irrigated just enough to get through the season, and some not
at all if water was unavailable or cost too much in relation to
projected crop income.
Another factor affecting crop size was an early November 2020
freeze in Northern California that caused pre-dormancy vine
damage, mostly in younger vineyards, leading to low or no crop
production on affected vines. Bitter also believes the 2020 fire
season, with periods of high smoke over vineyards, shielded
vines from sunlight and affected bud fruitfulness for the 2021
crop. " In some cases, it was a little bit of a perfect storm, with the
most affected fields hit by all three factors of drought, freeze and
smoke, " Bitter said.
Dry spring and summer weather, plus
the smaller crop, led to earlier ripening
and an earlier harvest in North Coast
and Central Valley winegrowing regions.
The Central Coast saw a later harvest
period, continuing into early November
Madera County harvest. Photo: Davindar Mahil
in some locations, and average to slightly less than average
yields depending on variety. Good quality grapes were reported
for most regions, with smaller berries resulting in more intense
flavor and color.
Wildfire disruptions and smoke-related issues were significantly
less statewide compared with 2020. The Sierra Foothills, El
Dorado County in particular, saw impacts from the Caldor Fire in
August and September. Some growers began picking early as the
fire spread, to bring in fruit prior to possible evacuation orders,
and to reduce time of exposure to smoke. El Dorado County
growers believe white grape varieties will see little to no impact.
More red varieties were processed without skin contact for rosé
production than in past years, for lots where smoke impacts were
indicated through lab or sensory evaluation.
" In contrast to two years ago, we've seen the swing in supply
shift drastically after two short crops, " Bitter said. " Even wineries
that were in the worst shape two years ago with high inventories

The Crush - November 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush - November 2021

The Crush - November 2021 - 1
The Crush - November 2021 - 2
The Crush - November 2021 - 3
The Crush - November 2021 - 4
The Crush - November 2021 - 5
The Crush - November 2021 - 6
The Crush - November 2021 - 7
The Crush - November 2021 - 8
The Crush - November 2021 - 9
The Crush - November 2021 - 10
The Crush - November 2021 - 11
The Crush - November 2021 - 12