California’s wine harvest smaller than last year’s

The Associated Press
Thursday November 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A spring frost and summer heat spikes led to a lower wine grape yield this year, but it also helped vines intensify the flavor in the grapes that survived the temperature extremes. 

The total statewide crop for 2001 is expected to be 3.1 million tons when harvesting wraps up.  

That’s down 6 percent from last year’s harvest of 3.3 million tons, a record high, despite 40,000 new acres coming into production this year. 

Abnormal weather damaged fruit, with little rain, a frost in April, hot weather in May and June and cool weather in July and August. But cool fall weather has helped balance out the flavor of the grapes, according to the San Francisco-based Wine Institute. 

And the glassy-winged sharpshooter, the insect that spreads the vine-killing Pierce’s disease that has affected Southern California vines, has been controlled with a wasp that lays its eggs in the sharpshooter’s eggs. 

“It’s gotten rid of about 85 percent of the eggs,” said Gladys Horiuchi, a spokeswoman for the Wine Institute. 

Consumers should benefit because there’s still an abundant supply of grapes and prices have gone down. That means wineries will be able to blend better grapes into their wines, Robert Smiley, dean of the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management, said in a recent survey.