February 10, 2009
2008 winegrape harvest: by the numbers

Figures were released today about 2008's winegrape harvest, and in not such surprising news the numbers were down. An estimated 3.05 million tons of winegrapes were crushed statewide in 2008, down 6 percent from the 2007 harvest, according to Preliminary Grape Crush Report from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Some 3.67 million tons of all grape types (table, wine and raisin varieties) were crushed in 2008.

2008 was a tough growing season, memorable for negatives like an April frost that hurt many vineyards across California and below normal rainfall. The upside is that summer and fall temperatures were overall mild, so growing grapes didn't get blasted too hard from the heat. But 2008 marked the third consecutive year of light crops, compared to the mammoth harvest of 2005 in which 3.76 million tons of wine grapes were crushed.

Here's what Leon Sobon, founder of Shenandoah Vineyards and Sobon Estate, said about Amador County's 2008 harvest in a statement:

"Our 2008 harvest started about 10 days early (and was) down 40 percent this year. Spring frosts did a lot of damage by either burning the grape bunches before they had bloomed or damaging them sufficiently so they produced bunches with fewer berries... Two years of lighter than normal rainfall added to the vineyard production problems. The 2007-2008 rainfall was 50 percent of normal and since our vineyards are dry farmed that presented a problem... Quality in general was very good. Flavors of the resulting wines are better than normal, tending toward richer and fruitier notes."

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