2012 North Coast grape harvest was largest ever

  • Crossbarn Winery's cellar master Andy Cooper, fills barrels with chardonnay for aging at the Sebastopol facility, Friday, February 8, 2013. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

The 2012 North Coast grape harvest was both the largest and most valuable in history, far exceeding the expectations of the region's wineries and growers.

Growers pulled in an estimated $1.4 billion worth of grapes on the North Coast last fall, a whopping 58 percent increase from 2011, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The size of the region's grape crop grew 46 percent in 2012, when wineries crushed 552,874 tons of grapes from Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties combined. It was the largest since the bumper crop of 2005, when North Coast growers brought in 505,576 tons worth $1.1 billion.

"It's very impressive," said Nick Frey, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers. "We knew it was good, we had no idea it was this good. After two tough years for growers, this is really great news, and it's going to have a good impact on our local economy. It's a huge increase in grape revenues."

The 2012 grape harvest set new records across California, where the statewide crush surpassed 4 million tons for the first time in history.

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