California grape acreage remains steady, survey finds

Grapes are displayed in a bin at a farmers' market in Davis, Calif. Grape acreage in California declined only slightly in 2014, according to a report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

SACRAMENTO — Vineyard acreage remained steady in California in 2014 despite drought conditions that affected yields, according to a government survey.

In all, 928,000 acres of grapes were in the ground statewide last year, a less-than 1 percent drop from the 933,000 acres that were planted in 2013, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

However, at least 27,000 acres of vineyards have been taken out in the past year, much of which was harvested before it was pulled, according to a survey of about 8,000 growers.

Wine grapes amounted for about two-thirds of planted grapes in the state, totaling 615,000 acres to 121,000 acres of table grapes and 192,000 acres of raisin-type grapes, according to the NASS survey.

Wine producers saw a 12 percent drop in tonnage in 2014 as lack of water affected yields, but vintners said lower yields per acre made for higher quality grapes with more flavor.

It’s too soon to know what will happen with this year’s crop, said Gladys Horiuchi, spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based Wine Institute.

“I think this year will be pretty telling as to what may happen if the drought continues,” Horiuchi said recently. “We just can’t crystal ball. I’ve known to see the rains come later in the season in past years. It’s not over until it’s over.”

Growers are preparing for the coming season by irrigating, fertilizing, applying downy mildew controls and adding sulfur treatments to their grapevines where rain recently occurred, NASS reported.

According to the acreage survey, the leading wine-type varieties continued to be Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, with Flame Seedless the leading raisin-type variety.

The data was compiled after NASS sent questionnaires to growers and followed up with phone interviews. Field representatives visited some large growers that did not respond by mail, and officials also consulted pesticide application data to arrive at the estimated acreage.

For the acreage summary as well as detailed data by variety, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/California/Publications/Fruits_and_Nuts/201503grpac.pdf .

Recommended for you