Record grape crush, prices in 2012

California grape growers enjoyed their largest-ever crop and record prices, as red and white grapes continued with double-digit growth.

The state’s grape crush climbed to a record 4.39 million tons, a 13% increase from 2011 – and 1% larger than the previous record in 2005, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

A grape cluster in Sonoma County.
A grape cluster in Sonoma County.

Red and white grapes accounted for the record crush, with red grapes – which account for 52% of overall production – increased 19% to 2.92 million tons. White grapes jumped 21% to 1.73 million tons. The grapes, used largely for winemaking, comprised 92% of the crop last year.

They also helped offset the dramatic decline of raisin grapes and table grapes, which plummeted 28% and 36%, respectively.

The combined price for all varieties – wine, raisin and table grapes – reached a record $737.61, up 25% from 2011. Across the board, grape growers enjoyed healthy increases in prices, with red wine grapes soaring the most at 25% to $883.62.

Raisin grape prices improved 20%, while table grapes increased 20%.

Central California grape growers – Fresno, Tulare and Kings counties – produced the most at 1.46 million tons, but their price of $369 pales compared to leader Napa County at $3,565. Sonoma County’s price per ton was the second highest at $2,183.