Turrentine Brokerage.com

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2015 Crop Update

Mike Needham, North Coast Grape Broker

The 2015 season started very early due to above average temperatures. Since then, temperatures have cooled a bit and we are currently tracking pretty similar to last year. It looks like harvest will still start earlier than normal (whatever normal means), but not as early as it appeared earlier this year.

A major change from the last few seasons is that the crop size is very erratic due to the cold spell during bloom resulting in a lot of shot berry and shatter. For the most part, the affected varieties are those that went through bloom later and in some areas bloom extended for nearly a month Cluster counts are above average this year, but due to the poor set and variability from vine to vine; it is hard to quantify an average cluster weight on these vineyards and make a good yield per acre estimate.

Led by the continuing demand for Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape market in the North Coast is currently waking up for certain varieties/areas as buyers are realizing that the crop potential is not what it once was. Overall, we have fewer grapes actively for sale this year than the last couple vintages. Most of this is a function of the longer-term contracts signed since 2012, when the market became extremely short in the North Coast.

This has been a challenging year for growers with varieties that are susceptible to mildew and rot. This latest weather pattern of high humidity is not helping that cause. We can help buyers navigate their way to fruit clean from mildew and rot.

Even if you are unsure of your needs, still call us early to be updated on the opportunities so you won’t miss out on the right grapes for your price point. Don’t be the last to call.

Audra Cooper, Central Coast Grape Broker/Partner
Erica Moyer, Interior & Monterey County Grape Broker/Partner

Over the weekend of July 18th, the remnants from hurricane Delores left a dusting of showers in Monterey County. In contrast, Paso Robles received an average of 2″ and up to 3.5″ of rain to Paso, just below 2″ in Edna Valley, and a little less in Santa Barbara County. While the rain was welcome, growers and wineries in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County are concerned about botrytis and mildew, at least for the short-term. In District 7, primarily Monterey County, the cool and gloomy weather during bloom brought the likely yield per acre for Pinot Noir down significantly compared to 2013 and 2014. At this point, we have completed a number of deals for the grapes for sale and have limited quantities still available. Chardonnay is also projected to be lighter than 2014 and there are limited amounts still available, mostly in the ‘warmer’ regions within Monterey County.

The overall crop in Paso Robles is lighter than last year. Cabernet Sauvignon projections are for yields per acre to be least 30% to 40% below an average crop , with some vineyards being off as much as 50%. Yield per acre on other varieties such as Petite Sirah, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc are expected to be below average as well—and Sauvignon Blanc could be off by as much as Cabernet Sauvignon. The market for Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are active; however, beyond those varieties, market activity dramatically moderates. There is still supply of most varieties, however, as the crop size continues to be realized, deals are being made, and the supply becomes smaller every day.

The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay crops in Santa Barbara County are smaller than we have seen them in the past few years. Currently, the crop looks average at best; however, there is still time for sizing. Chardonnay berries are softening up  and veraison in Pinot Noir is up to 90%. The market for Santa Barbara County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is moderately active and supply is limited, particularly when it comes to the number of choices a buyer has. All other varieties in Santa Barbara County have limited supply, but also limited demand. If you have potential needs, let us know as early as you can.

Erica Moyer, Interior & Monterey County Grape Broker/Partner

Harvest began the week of July 13th in the southern interior for the early varietals; however, grape harvest was postponed over the weekend of July 18th due to rainfall from tropical system Delores. Parts of Kern County, received anywhere from 0.75″ to 2.00″ of rainfall. The week has begun with high humidity and high temperatures, which is not good for thin skinned varietals such as Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay.

Erica Moyer, Interior & Monterey County Grape Broker/Partner

Harvest will begin the week of July 20th in Lodi and the Delta for Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Shatter and shot berry have resulted in challenges for sizing in various vineyards and varietals, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio appear to be sizing. There is a distinctive difference in yields between older vineyards and the newer vineyards coming into production. The question will be whether the increased yields in the younger vineyards will offset the lower producing older vineyards.

Buyers have yet to react to this uncertainty, but we do have fewer tons actively for sale of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon along with Malbec, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Grenache and Mourvedre, but demand is also softer. Let us know soon so we can match you up with the best quality grapes while they are still available.