The Utility of the Crush Report
By Audra Cooper
Broker/Partner at Turrentine Brokerage
Each year, around February 10th, The California Department of Food and Agriculture publishes the annual preliminary California Wine Grape Crush Report. The final crush report is released in March. This report is a critical barometer for the wine and grape industry, containing tons crushed and prices of wine grapes sold during each growing season/harvest. The Crush Report provides growers and wineries insight into the inventory position for the California wine business as a whole, and influences market dynamics for the current bulk wine market as well as the upcoming harvest.
For our purpose, there are three tables within the report that give us the clearest picture of what was harvested and the price paid per ton.
- Table 2 details tons crushed by California processors and is broken down by variety and district.
- Table 8 details tons crushed by California processors with brix and the base price per ton paid. Specifically, when reviewing Table 8, one will see every ton of grapes crushed in California with an attached price per ton, whether originally owned by a grower or winery. In other words, every ton of grapes that crosses a scale and that is crushed in CA must have a price per ton and brix attached to it that is later reported to the CDFA and contained in this table. In short, Table 8 gives us a clear view of what was harvested, at what brix level, and at what price per ton.
- Table 10, on the other hand, contains the weighted average grower return per ton. Table 10 is best used for district average pricing because it eliminates any fruit that is winery owned (estate, leased, etc.) which could skew the district average price per variety. It is important to note Table 10 only utilizes data for wine production, unlike the similar Table 6 which reports grower returns for grapes going to wine, vinegar, concentrate, juice, and brandy production.
Professionally, I use Table 2 and Table 10 the most throughout the year. I utilize both as a reference in presentations, interviews, and most importantly in the occasional conversation with clients. Why only occasionally? For the most part, the district average price does not greatly influence the spot market grape price and more often than not, each grower needs customized advice as well as the knowledge of all market factors in order to make informed business decisions. Keep in mind when discussing the district average price per ton, we are essentially referencing a data point that occurred in the previous year and not the current times we are attempting to navigate. That said, there is a lot one can deduce from the crush report, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me to further discuss.