Hallelujah! Hallelujah!! We finally have our website back up again! It is redesigned and very mobile phone friendly.
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It is predicated that we will have a large crop probably approaching 4.25 million tons. If so, it will be a record. This estimate is projected by Allied Grape Growers. However, bunch count and observations in the vineyards show an average crop. The record crop will be due to recently planted vineyards coming in to production especially for Cabernet Sauvignon. The demand by the public for Cabernet Sauvignon wine would appear to be insatiable—there are some cracks starting to show in that appearance. Record prices for Napa and Sonoma Cabs appear to be softening a little but still at outlandish prices.
After visiting most of our vineyards, there is a general opinion that harvest will be later than last year, probably at least one week. This is good because last year we were very early with some varieties. We are currently having a heat wave, but it is cool in the evenings. Technically, it is ideal conditions for good grape quality. Veraison (color change) at this stage is very spotty and varies between vineyards.
Currently, winery activity for those grapes that have no contract for the upcoming season is almost nonexistent. It probably represents less than 10% of the crop. This of course will change as the harvest approaches. Wineries are currently scrambling to empty tanks to make room for the new crop.
Labor has been one of the biggest variables that affect pricing. It will also be a factor this year but transportation (freight) might be a bigger factor. Last year, shipping costs varied quite a bit during the season. An unofficial freight “no strike” period occurred during the middle of last season. Truckers were unofficially striking in response to the impending Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Federal requirements. This unofficial strike was a serious slowdown and drove freight rates higher than ever, as well as, increased shipping time. This spring refrigerated rates for 2018 were at times 50% higher than 2017. Those rates are now abating and hopefully will return to more acceptable levels. One thing for sure, with the ELDs now being used, deliveries will take longer.
My wife and I enjoyed our most recent trip to Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. It is such a pleasure to visit customers and getting a certain amount of pride in the wines they are making from our grapes. I have tasted some excellent wines and am convinced that Eastern winemakers are making better “California” wines than their counterparts in California. We thank everyone for their hospitality that we visited. Hopefully, we would like to do this in the future for different parts of the country.
We are in the process of starting to contact wineries to see what their needs may be for the upcoming season. We thank you, who have already placed their orders. It makes our job a lot easier to get your orders in as soon as possible, but we know a lot of you have to assess your own crop before making a decision.