The Pacific Regional Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) released the 2018 California crush report. The bountiful 2018 wine grape harvest is up 6.6% in volume from 4,016 thousand tons in 2017 to 4,282 in 2018. The majority of the growth came from red varieties which increased 8.8% to 2,448 thousand tons, while white varieties increased 3.9% to 1,834 thousand tons in 2018.
The average price per ton also increased by 6.9% from $800 per ton to $855, with white grapes increasing in value 8% to an average of $635 per ton and red grapes 5.5% to $1,019 per ton. Napa wine grapes continue to outpace the competition with the highest average price at $5,571.44 per ton, up 6.6 percent from 2017, with District 3 garnering the second highest average price of $2,817.92 per ton, but only up 0.3 percent from 2017.
The most popular grape varieties grown in California remain Chardonnay (15.8%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15.1%). In fact, they increased their share significantly from 2017 when they stood at 14.5% and 14.1% share respectively. Zinfandel held stable at 8.6%, while Pinot Noir increased its share from 6.2% to 7.0% surpassing French Colombard to become the fourth highest volume grape variety.
Growth was not evenly distributed with District 3, Sonoma and Marin counties, increasing their yield by a whopping 33.9% to 275,976.9 tons in 2018 and Napa similarly 29.6% to 184,573.0 tons. While volumes in northern regions 2 and 9, as well as southern regions 13, 14, 15, and 16 all declined. The Pinot Noir average price declined 0.9 percent from 2017 to $1,674.62 per ton. While Zinfandel prices were up 1.5% to $600.21 per ton, Chardonnay price increased 5.1% to $970.76, and Cabernet Sauvignon prices grew 8.3% to $1,683.25 surpassing Pinot Noir as the highest priced major variety.