The Crush November 2022 - 2

FEATURE STORY CONT.
Drought, heat and a small crop also contributed to
an early harvest start and finish in some North Coast
locations. Sonoma County reported the earliest harvest
start date on record--July 29--and some growers
completed harvest before the end of September.
Sonoma's normal harvest period is mid-August to early
November. The heat wave also created a compressed
harvest in some locations as growers tried to expedite
picking and this resulted in capacity issues at some
wineries with loads waiting to be processed.
Regarding regional and variety outcomes, Bitter said
white grape varieties (muscat, French colombard,
chardonnay and pinot grigio) in the Southern Central
Valley had better tonnage compared with last year,
but not above average. He said with the April frost
and September heat, Lodi will have an overall shorter
crop this year, but there should be a good crop from
North Valley locations that were not frost-affected.
The Central Coast had a short crop for red varieties,
and chardonnay and pinot noir in some locations were
down 30% compared with last year. Proctor and Bitter
both described the North Coast as " hit or miss " with
some locations less than average. Zinfandel, pinot noir
and chardonnay crops were down in Sonoma County.
Lake County had an improved crop of sauvignon blanc
compared with 2021. Proctor said the cabernet sauvignon
crop will be down statewide this year, but later picked
cab came out better than expected in some locations,
particularly from established vineyards on deeper soils in
the North Coast.
ACREAGE TRENDS
Vineyard plantings and vineyard removals have mostly
balanced each other in recent years. Bitter said, " The
statewide acreage base has remained fairly flat and is
not growing, so overall I don't see huge changes in
grape supply and demand related to acreage. " Estimates
of current statewide bearing acres are about 585,000
and non-bearing acres at 55,000. There has been a
shift in planting and in vineyard acreage from the San
Joaquin Valley to coastal areas, particularly with red
varieties shifting toward the Central Coast. " South of
Lodi, more vineyards have seen the bulldozer, especially
older vineyards in locations where it doesn't make much
sense to keep farming due to the cost of water, and
due to lower market demand for red varieties from the
South Valley, " Bitter said. Growers in the South Valley
are planting and replanting with white varieties that are
perceived as providing similar quality to whites in North
Valley locations.
MARKET TRENDS AND ECONOMICS
Regarding grape prices, Bitter said growers in the Interior
regions saw stable pricing, not higher or lower compared
with 2021. But with higher production costs, they will
not make more money than last year. Coastal growers,
particularly in Napa and Sonoma, saw average price
Page 2 | November 2022
Mechanical harvester with onboard grape sorter in Lodi vineyard.
Photo: Ted Rieger
increases over last year. " But with costs up and yields
down, they will not see as good a bottom line return, "
Bitter said. From the winery/buyer perspective, Proctor
said, " The wineries are saying we paid more for these
grapes this year, but we can't sell the wine for more
money, based on current consumer demand and market
conditions. " Proctor added, " Both the wineries and
the growers are trying to find margin in a market where
there's not much margin. "
Discussing bigger picture economic factors, Bitter
explained: " There is a lot of caution and concern around
the economy and what may happen over the next few
months and year. With higher interest rates, a softening
investment/stock market, and talk about a recession, this
uncertainty is translating into grape buyers playing it safe
with little market activity right now. " He also observed,
" Grape buyers/wineries are fighting for market share, but
with no growth in overall consumer sales and demand,
anyone with a growth plan has to achieve it by taking
market share from someone else. "
Citing similar economic and market factors, Proctor said,
" Our concerns continue with the demand side. The
market feels fairly balanced right now, but it was three
years of lighter crops that helped us stay close to balance,
so we kind of backed into it. "
Bitter said much of the state's grape supply is currently
tied up in contracts with more multi-year contracts in
place compared with three to five years ago. Given
current contracts and economic concerns, there is not
much market activity currently or expected in the near
future. Bitter said, " Moving into 2023, the stage is set
for a stable marketplace. I'm discouraged we don't
have more robust market activity, but the wine market
is flat and not growing. " Proctor believes there will be
some market activity " for specific things rather than
everything. " He said there may be some early activity on
the North Coast, such as for Sonoma County chardonnay,
zinfandel and pinot noir that were short this year and
could not meet demand.
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The Crush November 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush November 2022

The Crush November 2022 - 1
The Crush November 2022 - 2
The Crush November 2022 - 3
The Crush November 2022 - 4
The Crush November 2022 - 5
The Crush November 2022 - 6
The Crush November 2022 - 7
The Crush November 2022 - 8
The Crush November 2022 - 9
The Crush November 2022 - 10
The Crush November 2022 - 11
The Crush November 2022 - 12
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https://www.nxtbook.com/cawg/cawg/the-crush-december-2023
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