California welcomes bumper crop

California’s producers are celebrating a bumper crop, which comes after several lean years and promises much in terms of quality though perhaps not in complexity.

Joel Peterson, founder of Ravenswood, said: “2012 has been like 1997. We got 30% more than average though it was later ripening.

“We were almost worried that it’d never be ripe enough but in the end you won’t have to be much of a winemaker to make good wines this year.”

Peterson explained his analogy behind the 1997 comparison (as ’97 initially promised much and has often failed to live up to expectations): “1997 made a lot of appealing wines and, in many ways, helped change American feeling towards US wines.

“There will be a lot of appealing wines this year. Some 30% or so will be excellent and an even smaller percentage will be truly outstanding but it’s not a complex vintage.”

Nonetheless, the size of the vintage is a boon for California after the smaller 2010 and 2011 vintages.

Peterson continued: “We were getting to the point that there was more demand than wine. This vintage goes some way to redressing that balance.”

The previous couple of years have been very good for growers as they have been able to get a higher price for their grapes.

Peterson told the drinks business that in the years before 2010, there had been some five years of surplus, which had seen grape prices fall by some 20%.

He said that there had been some “hard bargaining” this year to balance out those increased prices now there is a surplus again.

However, “California got the harvest it needed”, Peterson concluded.

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