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U.S. is facing short grape crop in 1991.

Barring the unexpected, the U. S. grape crop will be down in 1991. That's because California--producer of 90% of the wine in the U. S., 100% of all raisins and most of the table grapes-is facing not only drought for a fifth consecutive year but also a reduction of vineyard acreage. If there is a drop, it will be a continuation of the 1990 trend. The crush last year in California totaled 2,575,867 tons, down 5% from 1989 and 17% under the record 1982 vintage of 3.1 million tons.

The figures were released as a preliminary report by the Federal-State Market News. The final report, due March 11, is not likely to vary appreciably.

White wine varieties continued to account for the largest share of all grapes crushed, but four of the top five varieties fetching the highest average price were reds. The white wine crush was 1,330,697 tons, up 5% over 1989, whereas the reds totaled 809,497 tons, down 7%.

Of the top reds statewide, all four were Bordeaux varieties. Petite Verdot, yielding a full-bodied, richly-colored, slow-maturing and tannic wine, averaged $1,407 a ton, followed by Cabernet franc at $1,299 and Merlot at $1,225. Ranked fourth was the white aristocrat, Chardonnay, at $1,130, but its average was down 8% from 1989. The fourth Bordeaux variety--the red king Cabernet Sauvignon--was down 4% from 89 to $990 a ton. Zinfandel, reflecting a drop in popularity of white Zinfandel, continued down, probably due to both a sagging market and increased plantings, particularly in the Sacramento Valley. Zinfandel averaged $388, 29% lower than 1989 and a whopping 52% below the 1988 record average of $819 when the white version hit its peak on the wine market.

Napa County grapes fetched the highest average in 1990 of $1,241, up 8% from a year earlier. Sonoma and Marin counties were second at $977, up 5%. The statewide average, unadjusted for inflation, was $277 a ton, down 8% from 1989's record high and the first drop since 1985.

Colombard, most widely planted wine grape in California, continued to dominate with about 27% of the crush. Chenin blanc was second with 11%.

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Title Annotation:includes related articles
Publication:Wines & Vines
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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