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UC releases North Coast wine grapes cost study

Napa Chardonnay grapes
<p>UC study looks at Chardonnay and Pinot Noir plantings in Russian River Valley of northern California.</p>
Cost study looks at Chardonnay and Pinot Noir plantings. Location for study said to be in Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Study is based on hypothetical vineyard.

A University of California study reveals the costs and practices necessary to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes in the Russian River Valley, an American Viticultural Area of Sonoma County, Calif.

The study, titled “Sample Costs to Produce Winegrapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, North Coast Region Russian River Valley, Sonoma County – 2016” is written by Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Rhonda Smith; Extension Specialist Emeritus Karen Klonsky; Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center; and, Staff Research Associate Donald Stewart.

The study cites a hypothetical vineyard established with the appropriate permits and assumed to lie in the warmer edge of the Russian River Valley.

The farm is owned and operated by the grower. The site has less than a 15 percent natural slope. In reality, production is strongly influenced by the vineyard’s specific location within the valley and by weather that will significantly impact yield in some years.

A vineyard management company is contracted to provide services such as specialized equipment and operators, and laborers for hand operations such as suckering, shoot thinning, tucking, harvesting and pruning.

The study considers its location and five-year averages to estimate returns, based on Chardonnay grape prices of $1,933 per ton and Pinot Noir prices of $3,143 per ton.

Free copies of this study and other sample cost of production studies for many commodities are available. To download the cost studies, visit the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at

The cost and returns program is funded by the UC Agricultural Issues Center, which is part of UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact the Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651, Donald Stewart at [email protected] or Rhonda Smith, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sonoma County, at (707) 565-2621 or [email protected].


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