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California crop down by 20%

Published:  23 July, 2008

California's crop last year was 20% down on 2005, preliminary figures showed, calming fears of another grape glut.

Harvest totals for 2006 look to be an average of 3.5 million tonnes - well down on the record 4.3 million tonnes the year before, said Steve Fredricks, vice-president and partner of Turrentine Brokerage.

The Napa region commanded the highest grape prices, at $3,000 (1,540) a tonne, followed by Sonoma with $2,000 (1,025) a tonne.

Chardonnay grapes represented 16% of the state's crop, but red wine grapes dominated in overall totals, with more than 1.8 million tonnes crushed compared with 1.3 million tonnes of white grapes. Merlot, which some growers left to rot because of falling demand, was down in volume by 0.2% to 9.6%. Pinot Noir, however, continued its surge, increasing by 0.8% to make up 3% of the 2006 harvest.

Fredricks said that although the supply excesses were balancing out, with a glut persisting overseas and much 2005 stock still to sell, wine prices would not increase.