Wine and Vineyard Updates
The 2021 California winegrape crop continues to develop. Here are a few relevant updates from throughout the state courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation.
After a year that featured wildfires in growing areas and pandemic-related shifts in demand, analysts say the wine business could see more-balanced markets this year. With pandemic restrictions easing, wineries should see a rise in sales at tasting rooms, and online purchases may remain above pre-pandemic levels. Wildfires, and the smoke they cause, remain a threat to grape production, and drought may reduce yields this year.
Machinery now exists to do everything in a vineyard, and University of California specialists say that could help grape growers overcome chronic problems in hiring enough people. A UC review says about 90% of California winegrapes are mechanically harvested, and that other activities such as vine pruning can also be delegated to machines. But the review says the ability to mechanize depends on factors particular to each vineyard.
Along with shortages of water and of qualified employees, farmers have also been coping with a shortage of wooden pallets. The pallets serve important functions in moving crops from field to packinghouse to customers, but they’ve grown scarce. Soaring lumber demand and decreased sawmill capacity have reduced availability of new pallets. So far, there’s been no significant harvest disruption, though the pallet shortages may linger into next year.
(Source: California Farm Bureau Federation)