After a long cool summer, with heat spikes and early rains, preliminary grower reports show a decreasing yield, according to a report in the North Bay Business Journal.
Sonoma County was particularly hurt by the harsh weather; with growers estimating a harvest of 160,000 tons, down 20 percent from the five-year average, equal, roughly, to the county's 2003 yield according to Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.
“Summer was as cool in Sonoma County as it was in 2010, but there were no heat spikes as we experienced in 2010. The harvest was delayed two to three weeks and October rains further reduced yields,” he told the Journal.
The harvest yield will trickle down to sales figures, according to Frey:
Grape sales are forecast at $325 million, off by $130 million from 2009. Average price per ton in Sonoma in 2010 was $2,033, second only to Napa County. Mr. Frey expects average prices to rebound from lows in 2011.
Another factor limiting total yield is that there are few nonbearing acres available to increase grape supply. Today in Sonoma County some 59,660 acres are devoted to viticulture, down by 3,000 acres from the peak. Reduced acreage leads to a short supply indicating that grape prices should continue to strengthen.
The good news? Brands that market to younger, 'millennial' customers, aged 21 to 34, will see a spike in sales, as well as brands and varietals, such as Pinot Noir, that are popular with the wine-loving (and long living) Boomer population.
The final crop yield results will be published in the Crush Report, which will be published on Feb. 10, 2012.