Notes from Napa

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


2009 Harvest Report

By MIKE TRELEVEN Register Staff Writer

Napa County growers picked more wine grapes In 2009, but were paid a little less for them.

The jump in winegrape yields increased the total value of Napa County’s No. 1 commodity by nearly 24 percent in 2009, compared to 2008.

Those figures are among the highlights of the 2009 Napa County Agricultural Crop Report, presented by Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Dave Whitmer to the Napa County Board of supervisors on Tuesday morning.

Last year, the county’s entire winegrape crop was valued at $495 million, accounting for almost 97 percent of agricultural production in the valley.

However, the average price per ton paid for fruit dipped to $2,865 in 2009, down from $3,452 in 2008.

The 2009 harvest of 142,976 tons was almost 7 percent higher than the 10-year average of 134,049 tons picked in Napa County. The official figure doesn’t include fruit that was not sold or left hanging on the vine, according to Whitmer.

When all other agricultural products in the county are included, local crops in 2009 had a value at $502 million.

The varietal fetching the highest price in the county goes to petit verdot, which cashed in at $5,339 per ton. In 2009, there were 567 acres of vineyard dedicated to this varietal.

“Napa County’s prices (remain) the highest in the state,” Whitmer told the board of supervisors at their meeting Tuesday morning.

Cabernet sauvignon remains the dominant grape, with 18,219 acres bringing in an average price per ton of nearly $4,722.

Merlot was a distant second in acreage at 6,233, with an average price per ton of $2,628.

Among the white varietals, chardonnay led the way with 6,695 bearing acres averaging $2,321 per ton.

The next best white grape, at 2,479 acres, is sauvignon blanc, garnering an average price per ton of $1,880.

In other news, Whitmer told the board that in 2009 an additional 261 acres of vineyards were farmed organically. More than 2,750 acres of vineyard are now farmed organically in Napa Valley, bringing in $22.8 million in 2009.