Federal shutdown may delay annual California grape crush report

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Statewide grape crop report may be delayed

The annual statewide grape crush report may be delayed because of the partial federal government shutdown, according to the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

The staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that compiles the report is furloughed as a result of the shutdown that began on Dec. 22. The trade group said that Jan. 10 was the deadline for wineries to submit grape purchase data from the 2018 harvest. The preliminary report was slated to be released on Feb. 8, and the final report is due on March 8.

Both growers and wineries rely on the data to establish contracts for the following year.

“The crush report, which the industry pays for, provides essential financial information to California winegrape growers,” said Bill Berryhill, a Ceres-area grower and chairman of the group’s board of directors. “Lengthy delays in publishing the report threaten to complicate contract negotiations, interfere with lending activity and make it difficult for growers to budget for the year ahead.”

Sterling Vineyards offers cans with resealable caps

Sterling Vineyards of Calistoga has taken the next step in the wine industry’s move toward more aluminum cans, unveiling a can with a resealable cap and another with a cap that has a straw attached to it.

The move is the latest example in the typically conservative sector to court younger consumers and mirrors a similar trend occurring in the craft beer industry. The drive is spurred by growing consumer acceptance of packages outside the standard 750 milliliter wine bottle.

For example, the 375 ml bottle category had a 54 percent jump in sales and 35 percent jump in volume over the past 52 weeks, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.

Sterling will offer three varietals — chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and rosé — in a narrow 375 ml can that will be priced at $7.99 each. The caps with straws will primarily be for special offers from retailers and events.

“It’s no surprise that we are bringing something different and very much in tune with what consumers expect from Sterling,” said Rob Knott, brand director for the winery, which is owned by Treasury Wine Estates of Australia.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.

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