There is some profound information in numbers relating to wine. The information will probably not let you enjoy the wine more, but it should up your wine snob coefficient of wine facts. In the final analysis, wine has a lot of data points that are taken into account on wine’s journey from the vineyard to the shelf.

The consumer, in a free market, dictates demand. Of course they are influenced by industry advertising, news reports, recommendations from friends, pricing, and tastings and yes, even trends. As we all know, wine can be trendy. This is not new information, but in wine this is easily overlooked; sometime the romance overwhelms logic. Wine producers try to guess the next great change in varietal demand and vineyards respond to the risk of being too far ahead of the curve. That is probably why some wineries will test the consumer’s tastes in new blends before committing. In that it takes a few years for vines to start producing fruit, accurate forecasting varietal demands are tricky.

If we discount the California weather impact in 2014 crush, some of the major varietals saw a reduction in tonnage except for Melbac; even Zinfandel had a 24% drop in crush numbers. This can explain why some vineyard companies are moving to more profitable crops–low demand decreases yields.

It is easy to look at the California wine industry in simple terms if we just focus on: acreage, crush and gallons. The marketing side of the industry (such as pricing, direct-to-consumer shipping, etc.) is another subject that is both quantitative and qualitative.


According to a USDA report released in April 2015 and produced in co-operation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, there were 27,000 acres of grapes taken out of production in 2014 in California. Cabernet Sauvignon did see an increase in acreage comparing 2013 over 2012. But, some like Merlot saw a drop in total acreage in California. Relative to the whites, the champion Chardonnay grape (the largest white wine varietal) took a slight hit (144 acres), otherwise white wine grapes are flat relative to acres planted. Note: Total acreage is defined as bearing and non-bearing. For analysis purposes it can be interesting to see total commitments to acres planted as total and bearing only.

For example, Malbec has seen a surge in planted acreage over the last few years. If we consider bearing acreage versus non-bearing it will be noted that planting commitments were made in 2012 to plant new Melbac (data prior to 2012 is not definitive enough). Roughly, 30 percent of the total acreage for Malbec is just coming on-line in 2015. This means that wineries and vineyards are anticipating an up-swing in demand for Melbac wines. Comparatively, Syrah has seen a negative 3% change in 2014 versus 2013; granted the Syrah base isn’t very large (approximately 19,000 acres in California). Cabernet Sauvignon continues to be the star performer in California considering commitment to acreage. But, in crush numbers alone, even Cabernet Sauvignon decreased in 2014.

California acreage committed to all types of grapes (2014) was 928,000 of which wine grapes account for 66% of the total committed acreage. Overall, acreage committed to all grapes was down 0.5 percent 2014 vs. 2013. Elaborating on the point made earlier; the time before the vines become “bearing” is 3 to 4 years and farmers today are projecting that other crops can produce higher yield crops than grapes (wine, raisin, or table grapes).

Consumer’s drive the wine market and wineries produce wines that satisfy their market niche, not just in varietals but in flavors, aromas, and style and price points. This explains why there are so many wineries producing labels in each varietal category. Conversely, it is expensive to be a trail blazer in the wine business. The selection of grape’s or varietals to be grown (table, raisin or wine), are based on demand forecasts, consumer appreciation of the terroir, and the market revenue per ton for the fruit.

The varietals responsible for the most committed acres in California are: Chardonnay (97,826 total acres) and Cabernet Sauvignon (87,972 acres). These two varietals represents 53% of all white wine grapes by acreage and 28% of all red wine grape acreage respectively. These two varietals are the top acreage commitments out of 41 red and 32 white grape varietals planted in California in 2014.

In summary, 2014 California grape bearing standing acreage for white wine was 175,054 and 290,914 for red wine. Total bearing wine acreage was 465,968.


On the subject of California grape yields, the 2014 average price of all varieties of wine grapes were up.6% over 2013 to $758.69 per ton; red wine grape prices were up 5% to $892.06 per ton. Interestingly, the total 2014 crush totaled 4.14 million tons, down 12% versus 2013. The red wine crush was down 12% from 2013. Be mindful that there are different tonnage by varietal and production by terroir.

Total California crush in 2014 was 4,142,934 tons.

The USDA, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, has a report that details crush results. Because Napa and Sonoma/Marin Districts (Districts 4 and 3 respectively), are the largest by far in California, a quick look at their standings relative to the state in general is helpful. Within California in 2014, the largest varieties crushed were Chardonnay (17.3% of total) and Cabernet Sauvignon (12.3% of total) followed by Zinfandel (8.6%). In Napa, the highest average price per ton in 2014 was $4,077.31 per ton (average). Sonoma average yields were $2,318.92 per ton. These prices are for all varietals harvested. Note: depending on the vineyard, the Cabernet Sauvignon was the highest priced grape. Judaica Store Near Me

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