The 2020 winegrape crop was at a 10-year low of under 3.5 million tons. So why were overall prices down? Allied Grape Growers president Jeff Bitter says it has a lot to do with where the smoke-impacted vineyards were located.
Bitter… “A lot of the grapes that got affected by smoke were actually in the higher priced regions of California. And so they also tended to be grapes that were under contract at higher prices to begin with. So essentially we've kind of lopped off the top end of the market. That segment of the market was disproportionately affected in a negative manner by the smoke exposure and the rejections and the failures to, you know, make it into the winery and get counted in the crush report. So when you take off the top end, obviously the average goes down.”
This drop in prices didn’t hit all varieties. Bitter says demand for some of the more inland varieties was still strong.
Bitter… “They did go up when you look at varieties and regions outside of the coast. You know, if you have a variety like French Colombard, that's predominantly grown in the interior where there was no smoke issues. That average price went up. Same with Muscat or Muscat Alexander, same with Ruby Red. I mean, certain varieties that are central to the interior regions of the state, those average prices all went up. Which naturally you would think they would in a year like this with the shortage.”
Winegrape growers are hopeful for a better year in 2021.