Wine enthusiasts received good news this week as the California Department of Food and Agriculture reported that this past year’s plentiful harvest of grapes in California was record breaking. The 2013 crop weighed in at 4.23 million tons, up 5 percent more than the 2012 record breaking harvest of of 4.02 million tons. This plentiful harvest means that there will be more affordable bottles of wine on store shelves. Vineyards in Napa and the San Joaquin Valley were able to bring in the record breaking harvest despite the severe drought that has recently affected the nearby area and the rest of the state.
California’s grapes are one of the state’s most profitable goods. This year’s plentiful grape harvest will only increase the revenue for all vineyards and wineries across the state. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, grapes produced in the state during 2012 were valued at over $4.449 billion – this comes in second to California’s milk which was valued at $6.9 billion. The grapes made in California alone account for over 91 percent of grapes produced in the United States as a whole – because of this, California also produces 90 percent of the volume of wine in the United States. California’s coastal region along with frequent sunny weather makes the state the ideal place for growing quality grapes.
The first grape vineyard in California was opened in present day Los Angeles by William Wolfskill in 1839. As the gold rush brought more and more people through California, more farmers and growers invested in California’s agricultural industry. As of 2012, there were over 1,200 wineries in the California, spreading all throughout the state. Napa Valley, located in northern California, is famous for housing some of the most world-renown vineyards and wineries. Over 44 percent of California’s grapes come from vineyards in the 220 mile span of the San Joaquin Valley.
The record breaking 2012 and 2013 crops follow two years of shorter, less plentiful harvests. Growers attributed the large harvest to good weather, and the expansion of the acreage of vineyards across the state. Heidi Scheid, chairwoman of the California Association of Winegrape Growers announced that despite short crops in 2010 and 2011, vineyards managed to produce “two vintages, with record-sized harvests and exceptional quality.” California grape growers receive an average of $746 per ton, while vineyards in Napa Valley received an average of $3,691 per ton.
There are over a hundred grape varieties that are grown in California. Some of the most popular grape varieties include “Cabernet Sauvignon,” “Chardonnay,” and “Merlot.” Many vineyards and producers frequently develop new varieties of grapes every year. The Univeristy of California at Davis has a department dedicated to both “Viticulture,” or “the cultivation or culture of grapes,” and “Encology,” “the science that deals with wine and wine making.” The department has assisted California wine growers in developing new practices, which has helped California maintain its status as one of the top leading grape producers in the world.
The record breaking 2013 harvest comes as a result of good weather, increased overall acreage of vineyards in the state, as well as some good fortune. Both the vineyards that grow and produce the state’s wine, as well as the consumers who buy their wine around the world will all profit from this year’s plentiful grape harvest in California.
By Tyler Shibata