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Laurie Jervis: State Numbers Report 4 Million Tons of Wine Grapes Crushed in 2017

Second annual Women Winemakers Dinner returns to K’Syrah in Solvang on March 8

The 2017 Preliminary Grape Crush Report revealed that the state crushed 4 million tons of wine grapes, such as these in a bladder press in a Lompoc winery during a prior harvest. Click to view larger
The 2017 Preliminary Grape Crush Report revealed that the state crushed 4 million tons of wine grapes, such as these in a bladder press in a Lompoc winery during a prior harvest. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk file photo)

The number of wine grapes crushed statewide in 2017 topped 4 million tons, according to the preliminary report released Feb. 9 by the California Agricultural Statistics Services.

The figure is nearly the same as the tonnage crushed in 2016.

In a news release, grape brokers from Novato-based Turrentine Brokerage discussed yield by grape varietals harvested in District 8, which comprises Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and
Ventura counties.

The skyrocketing popularity of rosé wines continues to dictate demand for particular wine grapes.

“Grenache and syrah grapes going into rosé wine programs have been on the rise over the past three vintages. With strong demand, availability of inventory has been tight for growing and new
emerging programs,” said broker/partner Audra Cooper, whose territory includes Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

“Mother Nature and new plantings coming into production helped remedy this by giving the Central Coast a larger crop, an increase of 4.2 percent, in fact.”

Two other popular grape varietals — pinot noir and chardonnay — were in hot demand but produced a “slightly lighter” crop (down 3 percent) than 2016, Cooper continued.

“District average prices reflected a lack of significant change and signifies the stability of the grape market in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties for these varieties.

Overall, prices for red wine grapes continue to increase, according to the crush report. The average price in 2017 for all grape varietals was about $775 per ton, up 1.5 percent from 2016.

However, the average price for red grapes was about $962, or an increase of 4.6 percent from the prior year.

The average price for white wine grapes fell 2 percent from 2016 to $587. 

Chardonnay remained California’s top grape crushed, accounting for 14.5 percent of the total crush.

Cabernet Sauvignon led the state’s red-grape numbers with 14.2 of the total.

Napa, District 4, produced the state’s most expensive wine grapes with an average price of about $5,205 per ton, up 11 percent from 2016, according to the report.

Women Winemakers Dinner

Women winemakers, chefs, bakers and gourmet food purveyors will join forces March 8 for the second annual Women Winemakers Dinner at K’Syrah Catering & Events in Solvang.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, celebrated annually since 1909, and the event will once again benefit the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County, a giving circle whereby
individuals combine their time and/or money to better fund important causes — more so than they would via individual donations.

In 2016, the Women’s Fund distributed $50,000 in grants to organizations serving women and children.

Participating winemakers and wineries confirmed to date include Karen Steinwachs, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard; Sonja Magdevski, Casa Dumetz Wines; Brooke Carhartt, Carhartt Vineyard & Winery; Alison Thomson, Lepiane Wines; Lane Tanner, Lumen Wines; Adrienne St. John, Rideau Vineyard; Gretchen Voelcker, Moon Unit Wines; Jessica Gasca, Story of Soil; Tara Gomez, Kitá Wines; Angela Osborne, A Tribute To Grace; Kimberly Smith, LaMontagne Winery; Marisa Beverly, Bevela Wines; Clarissa Nagy, Nagy Wines; Sandra Newman, Cebada Wine; Angela Soleno, Turiya Wines; Brit Zotovich, Dreamcôte Wine Co.; Morgan Clendenen, Cold Heaven Cellars; Anna Clifford, Terravant Wine Company; Helen Falcone, Falcone Family Vineyards; Kat Gaffney, Spear Vineyards & Winery; Sarah Holt Mullins, Rancho Sisquoc Winery; and Katie Povah and Jill DelaRiva Russell, Cambria Wines.

Karen Steinwachs, far left, is the general manager and winemaker at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, and an organizer of the Women Winemakers Dinner. She is seen with fellow participants at the event’s debut in 2017. Click to view larger
Karen Steinwachs, far left, is the general manager and winemaker at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, and an organizer of the Women Winemakers Dinner. She is seen with fellow participants at the event’s debut in 2017.  (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk file photo)

Chef Brooke Stockwell, executive chef at K’Syrah Catering & Events, will be joined in the kitchen by Chef Pink, the new “Chef De Cuisine” at Root 246 and owner of the former Bacon & Brine; baker Amy Dixon, of The Baker’s Table in Santa Ynez; Theo Stephan, owner of Los Olivos’ Global Gardens; Chef Cynthia Miranda from Santa Ynez’ The Lucky Hen Larder; and Chef Robin Goldstein, author of the newly released cookbook A Taste of California: Santa Ynez Valley.

Other chefs may join the event in the coming weeks, said event publicist Anna Ferguson-Sparks.
Santa Barbara County boasts a much higher percentage (nearly double the average) of women winemakers than other regions. The March 8 event will bring together a good portion of this
county’s female winemakers in a show of support for each other, and for women the world over. 

Last year’s event — planned, executed and sold out within a few weeks — was so popular that organizers have expanded this year’s run and offered different pricing options.
The evening will open with wine tasting and appetizers under a tent on the closed-to- traffic street outside and conclude with a sit-down meal inside the venue.

The pre-dinner tasting reception outside will begin at 5:30 p.m. and run till 7 p.m., and will include wine tasting with select participating winemakers and passed appetizers and a cheese
table by local female cheese monger, Janelle McAtamney, of Solvang’s Cailloux Cheese Shop.

VIP tickets will include both the tasting tent and the seated dinner, during which guests will enjoy wine pairings by, and conversations with, additional female winemakers. A dessert
reception will follow.

Tickets to the tasting tent portion are $50 and the VIP tickets are $125, organizers said. Tickets are available online here

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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