Wednesday, March 3, 2021

American Vineyards

The following numbers are gleaned from a 2018 Forbes magazine article, a 2016 article, a 2018 article and the current wikipedia article on the subject.  What we have learned in this endeavor is that reporting is an inexact science; numbers tend to lie depending on the economic perspective of the reporter.  Also, information becomes dated quickly in our booming wine business.

There are well over two  million acres in grapevines in the United States, fifty-three percent of which are dedicated to table grapes and raisins.  The most widely planted grape in America is the Sultanina at 14% of that 2 mil. figure. 

There are probably a million acres in wine grapes in the country with up to 85% of them residing in California.  If you include Oregon and Washington, that gives you 90% of our American wine production.  Chardonnay is still king in this tabulation accounting for 29% of those vineyards.  Cabernet Sauvignon is second at about 22% of the total.  Pinot Noir is third with about 18%.  Merlot is next at 14% and Zinfandel is the last of the biggies with 9% of the acreage.  Our favorite white wine grape must not be a favorite of many people since Sauvignon Blanc only accounts for 4% of the total.

That leaves 4% for all of the other types combined which confirms our favorite whine about how the wine industry big guys are crushing the farm wineries.  If you mass market the major types to the tune of about 96% of all wine business (which the thirty largest wine companies do) then the Mom & Pops have to eke out a living from the crumbs off the economic table.  Which is, in fact, the way that pie is cut up.  But enough of that.  Back to business...

In descending order, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Rubired, Ruby Cabernet, Barbera, Grenache, Chenin Blanc, Muscat Alexandria, Riesling, Viognier and Gewurztraminer round out most of that remaining 4% of grapevine acreage.  Which brings us to the reason for this rant - We had heard that Rubired was being much more widely planted than it apparently is.  Or is it?

Rubired is one of a handful of the world's tinturier grapes, grapes with a red flesh and juice that are now being reduced to a concentrate.  Think - Welch's.  That concentrate is finding it's way into many wines of differing qualities in order to beef up the richness of the product.  So whether you like your premium California reds big chewy and jammy or you just like an everyday red that is a little more substantial than others, you may have Rubired to thank for what you have. Just how prevalent Rubired is in practice is a closely guarded trade secret. 

By the way, the following grape types are ascendant so look for them to be factors in the future: Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Mourvedre, Vermentino, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc.

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