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California Grape Acreage Subsides

The year 2020 could be characterized as a year of great loss, due to the pandemic, wildfires, and many other issues. The USDA also just reported a loss in total acreage for the number one grape growing state in the nation for the unprecedented year. California’s 2020 grape acreage totaled 895,000 acres, down 2.5% from 2019. Of the total grape acreage, 844,000 were bearing while 51,000 were non-bearing. The wine-type grape acreage was estimated at 620,000 acres, 580,000 bearing and 40,000 non-bearing. Table-type grape acreage remained unchanged from 2019, totaling 130,000 acres, with 122,000 bearing and 8,000 non-bearing. Acreage of raisin-type grapes totaled 145,000 acres, of which 142,000 were bearing and 3,000 were non-bearing.  While wine grape acreage experienced the most significant decline this past year, raisin grape acreage was reported to have the most significant percentage loss of the three types, at a 5.2% decline.

The leading wine-type varieties continued to be Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Flame Seedless was the leading table-type grape variety. Thompson Seedless continued to be the leading raisin-type variety and was utilized for raisins, fresh market, concentrate, and wine.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Pacific Regional Office partners with California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Table Grape Commission, and Raisin Administrative Committee to conduct an annual acreage survey of California grape growers. The purpose of this survey is to provide annual grape acreage with information on new plantings and removals. It is a continuation of a long series of industry-funded grape acreage surveys.

This report consists of two parts:

Estimated grape acreage — bearing, non-bearing, and total.

Detailed data by variety, and year planted — as voluntarily reported by grape growers and maintained in our list of grape vineyards.

With perfect information, the estimated grape acreage and the detailed data would be the same. However, this will never be the case for the following reasons:

A voluntary survey of approximately 8,900 grape growers is unlikely to attain 100 percent completeness.

It is difficult to detect growers who are planting grapes for the first time.

The detailed data reflects vine removals from 30,000 acres during the past twelve months. Of this number, significant acreage was harvested in 2020 prior to being pulled out. As a result, harvested acreage removed in 2020 is included in the estimated acreage, but excluded from the detailed data

PROCEDURES

The major source of the grape detailed data was a questionnaire mailed to all grape growers from our list of grape vineyards. The mailing was made in October 2020 to approximately 8,900 grape growers. The questionnaire contained previously reported crop, variety, and acreage information preprinted. Producers were asked to update the information with new plantings, removals, and any other corrections; new growers were mailed a blank questionnaire. Growers were given six weeks to respond by mail. A telephone follow-up was then undertaken.

To arrive at the estimated grape acreage, our list of grape vineyards was compared with data provided from the pesticide application data maintained by County Agricultural Commissioners and the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We sincerely thank the many farm operators, owners, and management firms providing the information. Funding was provided by an assessment on wine grapes plus funding from the California Table Grape Commission and the Raisin Administrative Committee.

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