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Grape Prices Drop Slightly in Finger Lakes

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are down, while Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Viognier up in New York growing region

by Hudson Cattell and Linda Jones McKee
new york finger lakes grape prices
Source Hans Walter-Peterson, Cornell University Finger Lakes Grape Program
Ithaca, N.Y.—After recording higher prices in 2012 for the first time in several years, grape prices in the Finger Lakes region of New York are flat to slightly lower for the 2013 vintage. The list of prices in the accompanying table was furnished to Wines & Vines by Hans Walter-Peterson, viticulture extension specialist with Cornell University’s Finger Lakes Grape Program. Of the 58 varieties listed, 25 declined in price, 14 moved higher and 14 remained unchanged. Five newcomers joined the list, including Aromella, Frontenac, Grüner Veltliner, Muscat Ottonel and Zweigelt.

After taking a hit between 2007 and 2009, Cabernet Franc moved 3% higher in average price per ton, from $1,263 in 2012 to $1,306 this year. Cabernet Sauvignon went down 3% (from $1,648 to $1,593), and Merlot went from $1,808 to $1,771. Pinot Noir increased from $1,660 to $1,682. Viognier gave a strong showing among white vinifera varieties, rising from $1,700 to $1,725. Also increasing in price were Riesling (from $1,447 to $1,482) and Chardonnay (from $1,248 to $1,264).

Among the red hybrids, Maréchal Foch increased 5% (from $642 to $675), and Chambourcin was up 4% (from $789 to $819). Baco Noir declined from $569 to $555. Mostly lower in the white hybrid category were Aurore (dropped from $385 to $360), Seyval ($613 to $594) and Verdelet, which was down 8% ($550 to $505). Vidal rose from $607 to $613.

Most native American varieties moved slightly lower. The price per ton for Concord went from $324 to $319, Catawba from $338 to $332, and Delaware from $414 to $395. Niagara went up from $326 to $328.

Aromella, an aromatic and cold-hardy white cultivar named by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., on Feb. 7, debuted at $750 per ton. After increasing in price significantly in 2012, other recent Geneva introductions had losses of more than 6%: Corot Noir went down from $631 to $581, Noiret from $680 to $634, and Valvin Muscat from $865 to $754.

New York state wineries that purchase more than 5 tons of any grape variety are required to publish the prices they will pay by Aug. 15 of each year. According to Walter-Peterson, some of the prices reported are prices wineries pay for their own grapes. Others may be contracted prices between growers and wineries. See a full list of prices here.

In a departure from previous years, the names of the wineries buying the grapes have been omitted from the table. Walter-Peterson told Wines & Vines that this was an attempt to get a few more price lists from buyers that might have been reluctant to share their prices without some level of anonymity. However, the change did not result in a significant increase in price reports, and the idea may be given up after this year.

The growing season in the Finger Lakes has been close to average in number of growing degree days There was abundant rain from bloom until mid-August and, consequently, there has been some disease pressure. A larger than normal crop is expected in the native American varieties and the hybrids. Crops in vinifera blocks are considered to be more of a mixed bag. At this point, the outlook for a quality crop is good, and the hope is for a warm and sunny fall.

Ontario juice grape prices up
Wines & Vines reported the Ontario wine grape prices for 2013 on Aug. 8. (See “Ontario Grape Prices Steady for 2013.”) Prices for labrusca varieties, considered juice grapes, were separately negotiated in late August. As anticipated, prices for these grapes continue to increase. In Canadian dollars per tonne, Concord grapes are $480, Niagaras are $456, and Elvira grapes are $551. The agreement between the Grape Growers of Ontario and the Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario called for a 1.5% increase above 2012 prices.

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