Avocado, Lemons & Grapes – three of the most profitable crops for California farmers were impacted in this year’s wildfires that raged through the state’s Northern and Southern fertile lands in what is now being deemed as the most destructive year for fires in state history.
As we hear stories of crop and land fertilization loss, slowing tourism, and negative impact on sales; what are the real impacts of this natural disaster for California’s $34 billion dollar wine market and how will the industry be affected going into 2018?
Let’s take a look behind the some key points:
#1: Wine Harvest Was Nearly 85% Complete by the time the Northern CA wildfires hit
As reported on in a recent article by Wired Magazine; in the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Regions by October of this year nearly 85% of the harvest was complete. This means the crop potentially impacted by the fire was only 15% of the season’s harvest. But that 15% didn’t end up impacted; in fact only a handful of vineyards reported grapes that were lost in the fire.
#2: Only 5% of Wine Country Was Hit by the Fires
With the hundreds of thousands of acreage impacted by the Northern and Southern CA wildfires that raged through Q4 of this year; a surprisingly small amount of Wine Country was impacted. As highlighted in a recent piece by Travel Market Report, only 5% of wine country was hit by the fires that left other regions in shambles. This was backed further by an event hosted in connection to by the CA Wildfire relief that toured the area’s 700 wineries and vineyards reporting only 7 were impacted or destroyed by the fires.
#3: Wine Sales Continue to Be Stable
Despite predictions of wine shortages in the next few years, 2017 vintage wine price spikes and compromised wines due to the fires that spread; many industry experts and wine makers share the data that contradicts these claims. Wine sales for the most part were stable for Wine Country and is predicted to remain throughout early 2018.
#4: The Biggest Hit Lies in the Tourism Market
A $3.4 billion industry, tourism in Northern CA wine country has taken the biggest fall in recent months. With 2017 going down in history as the most disastrous year for fires in the state, devastating acre and community lost as well as lives sacrificed; it’s no wonder potential tourists are staying at bay and avoiding what is known as a top US destination now in desperation. However this perception is just that. With the majority of land that makes up wine country left unshaven, winemakers express this as their biggest loss from the natural disaster; sharing losses in the 40-70% range for visitations, tours and tastings.
So what does this all mean? With the current state of the CA wine market positioned for a full recovery, the industry knows the full impact of these record breaking fires will not fully be understood until more time and harvesting seasons have past. That being said, the immediate impact in loss is the Wine Industry seems to be driven on speculation more than pure devastation.