A weak economy is pinching the premium wine industry

Oct 25, 2010

Like many business sectors, the California premium wine industry is suffering under the weak economy, according to an article published over the weekend in the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

Wine produced in Napa and Sonoma counties used to be cheap alternatives to French wines. Now connoisseurs are turning to less expensive wines from Australia, South America and California's Central Valley.

UC Cooperative Extension viticulture farm advisor Glenn McGourty told reporter Glenda Anderson that he believes consumers will return to North Coast wines when the economy improves.

“Lodi is kind of like the person you go out with that's really hot but you don't want your parents to see them,” he was quoted.

The story opened with the travails of McDowell Valley Vineyards of Hopland, which is facing possible foreclosure Nov. 5. McGourty said the McDowell situation is not unique.

“A lot of people are on the ropes,” he was quoted.

Wineries are cutting back on how much they buy and the prices they'll pay for grapes.

The McDowell vineyard reported that the value of its premium winegrapes has dropped from $1,400 a ton to about $700 a ton. A winery offered to buy 32 tons of McDowell sauvignon blanc at $600 a ton. In Lodi, winegrapes average about $500 a ton, the story said.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist