Preliminary crush data for 2007 were released on Feb 10th. And there was much rejoicing. Some of the data are pretty interesting. I’ve highlighted a couple bits below.
This first graph (created in the wonderful Apple spreadsheet app, Numbers) shows the highest price per ton paid for each grape variety in
California Sonoma County. Considering the high price of Napa Cabs, you’d expect the top prices to go toward Bordeaux varieties. Well, that’s not the case this year. Oops! Got a little ahead of myself there. The graph below represents only a subset of the data. Tony Correia, an expert on vineyard economics, called me on this one.
The top per ton price was indeed paid for Napa Cab: over $37,000 a ton. Doh! He speculates that it may be a Harlan buy. Thanks for the correction Tony! And check out this great piece on vineyard economics for Wines and Vines where Tony talks a bit about the realities of vineyard investment.
Ahem, moving along. The top spot for district 3 (Sonoma) goes to Pinot, with a top $/ton clocking in at a swarthy $11,464.00.
Nice work if you can get it.
The next of the top tier performers, all at 10K per ton, are the Bordeaux varieties: Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Merlot. I suspect those prices were paid by Joseph Phelps or a similar producer that can command in excess of $100 a bottle. Those are followed by Syrah, Zinfandel (Turley?), and Petite Verdot.
Unfortunately, as you’ll see in the next graph, the average price per ton for Pinot is nowhere near the lofty heights shown above. So, in the off chance you were contemplating buying some property and planting a vineyard in CA, the numbers below should sober you up. Or perhaps not…
The trend line here is certainly promising. Average Pinot prices are up 13% year-over-year. Since land available for planting high quality fruit is pretty darn scarce, there’s every reason to believe that, at least at the upper end, growth will continue into the future.
Growth is slowing however. Prices for in ’06 rose at a rate of 17% year-over-year. Again I think this will affect the lower end more than the upper. This is certainly supported at least in part by the extremely high price at least one producer is willing to pay for a ton of pinot (see the first graph).
But you never know. Predicting the future is a fool’s game. Take a look at the price per ton for Nebbiolo:
Everything was going along swimmingly until this past year. Then, suddenly, prices fell off a freakin’ cliff. Look out below!
To be fair this is most likely a function of once miniscule supply finally meeting and/or exceeding demand. Still, these are the same forces we deal with in every market, so I wouldn’t discount it entirely.
Anyway, interesting data. All in all though, the future continues to look very bright for my beloved Pinot noir.