Heat cut into Calif.’s wine grape crush; some varieties flourished

California’s 2017 wine grape crush totaled slightly more than 4 million tons, down less than 1 percent from the 2016 total, according to a preliminary report released earlier this month by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The state’s preliminary report said the overall 2017 crush — including wine, raisin and table grapes — totaled 4.23 million tons, up less than half of a percent from the 2016 crush of 4.21 million tons.

The state’s preliminary report on wine grapes was broken down by San Rafael-based Ciatti Co., a major bulk wine and grape brokerage.

Ciatti said the average wine grape price last year was $820 a ton, up 1.8 percent from $806 in 2016.

The 2017 average price of all varieties was $775.09 a ton, up 1.5 percent from 2016.

The brokerage also noted that cabernet sauvignon (599,833 tons), pinot noir (262,590 tons) and pinot gris (252,393 tons) had their largest crushes ever in 2017.

Ciatti’s analysis noted that “coming into August 2017 the crop was looking average or better than crop estimates, but continuous days of extreme heat contributed to a light crop.”

The brokerage said the effect of heat was most pronounced in chardonnay tonnages in the Lodi wine-growing region, which fell 18 percent.

Ciatti’s media release added that “demand continues for pinot noir in all districts not only in grapes, but bulk wine too.”

Ciatti said the state’s final grape crush report is scheduled to be released in early March.