Shifting consumer demands, increasing competition and the need for a higher profile are among the issues San Joaquin Valley wine grape growers will deal with in 2009, the Fresno Bee reports.
That was the consensus from several speakers who gathered at Pardini’s Banquet Facility in Fresno for the annual San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association’s industry forum.
More than 100 farmers and wine industry representatives heard from experts on the industry’s performance last year and what growers can expect in 2009.
For many wine grape growers, the unstable economy and the demand for more farmland drove the value of vineyards higher.
Corn growers, dairy operators and property owners wanting to escape a tax bite all helped boost vineyard prices, said Ben Slaughter, an appraiser for Correia-Xavier Inc. “While vineyard prices doubled in 10 years, farm income has remained mostly flat,” Slaughter said.
Farmers struggled this year with higher costs of fertilizer, fuel, water and steel.
Offsetting some of those higher costs was continued consumer interest in several varieties of wine grown in the central San Joaquin Valley, including Syrah, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, said Nat DiBuduo, President of Allied Grape Growers.
“Pinot Grigio was particularly strong,” DiBuduo said. “It has a very good future.”