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2008 California harvest slightly down

California’s 2008 wine grape harvest is down 6% on the previous year, according to preliminary reports.

State agriculture officials said that just over 3m tons of grapes were harvested last year. The potential size of the crop was reduced by April frosts early in the growing season.

Despite the low yields, many wineries are happy with the quality of the crop, citing ideal maturation conditions during the summer and autumn.

‘The low yields did produce some great wine,’ said Kevin Sass, winemaker at Justin Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles. ‘The problem is there will be a shorter supply of wines from 2008.’

Meanwhile, Tom Rinaldi, director of winemaking at Hewitt/Provenance Vineyards in Rutherford, Napa Valley, was pleased with the ‘deep colour, variety of flavours, nice balance, elegant style and rarity of the wines’.

On average, grape values were higher than in 2007, with Napa commanding the highest prices (US$3,390, £2,390, €2,640 per ton). Chardonnay is the most popular grape in the state, accounting for just over 15% of the harvest.

Written by Richard Woodard

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