California winemakers and grape growers crushed just over four million tonnes of grapes in the 2017 harvest, with increases for Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and declines for Chardonnay and Zinfandel, show new figures.
California’s most common wine grape varieties based on 2017 crush figures:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Gris
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Petite Syrah
Based on 2017 grape crush data, published by California’s department of food and agriculture and analysed by Ciatti Company in February 2018.
What we know from the latest California 2017 harvest figures
California harvested around four million tonnes of grapes in 2017, with the red wine harvest down by 1.6% versus 2016 and the white wine harvest up by 0.7% against the previous year, according to preliminary figures released by wine broker Ciatti and based on California Department of Food & Agriculture figures.
Reds came in at just over 2.24 million tonnes and white grapes at around 1.76 million.
Devastating wildfires claimed more than 40 lives across North California in October 2017, despite 10,000 firefighters doing their best to contain blazes.
Wine was understandably not the main concern with lives and homes at risk, but there was nevertheless discussion within the wine sector around how fires might affect the 2017 vintage.
Some wineries sustained damage – Signorello, for example, being one of the worst hit – although a Sonoma State University survey of North California wineries found that 950 our of 1,025 wineries contacted had no structural damage.
While it is too early to properly assess quality impact, the latest 2017 grape crush report underlines the view that fires had a minimal overall impact on harvest quantity – even though some producers in high risk areas were evacuated from their estates for several days.
‘The fire was awful,’ said Glenn Proctor, global wine and grape broker with Ciatti, ‘but from an industry point of view we feel it did not have an effect on production numbers.
‘Luckily most of the crop was harvested by the time the fires occurred in the second week of October. We feel the severe heat we had in early September had the biggest effect on production,’ he told Decanter.com.
Cabernet Sauvignon is king
Cabernet Sauvignon had a record harvest in California in 2017, up 6% on 2016, said Ciatti.
Californian growers crushed almost 600,000 tonnes of the world’s most planted grape variety last year with premium coastal regions seeing the biggest increase.
Cabernet harvests ‘will only continue to grow’, said Ciatti.
In contrast, Chardonnay saw 2017 harvest quantity dented by heat spikes, particularly in Lodi, where the total crush fell by 18%.
Zinfandel saw one of its smallest harvests in recent years, down by nearly 13% to just over 364,000 tonnes.