California growers supply about three-fourths of the grapes for this market, estimates Andy Bivona, concentrate specialist for Joseph W. Ciatti Co., San Rafael.
Imports primarily from Argentina, but also Mexico, Chile, Italy and Spain, supply about one-fourth.
Last year, a large crop created an overabundance of white and red grapes in California, resulting in a buyer's market.Low prices in the raisin market added to the supply headed for concentrate.While prices for this commodity just a few summers ago ranged from $200 to $400 a ton depending on the variety, last summer prices dropped to $125 to $150 a ton, regardless of the variety.
"Given the likely wine and raisin carryover, more grapes will certainly look for a home in concentrate, further compounding our imbalance and resulting in the likely cessation of new plantings and the removal of some vineyards," says Bivona
."Some people are just going to have to exit the market for things to get back in balance."
Meanwhile, a group of wineries and growers are meeting informally to find ways for California growers
to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.One idea is a label on products indicating they are made with concentrate from California grapes.