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Vineyard grape prices are trending down

YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES—The recession has put a slump in the price of grapes that had been steadily climbing for several years.
Hans Walter-Peterson, Cornell Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist for Yates and Schuyler Counties, explained that the different grape varieties sell for a range of prices, but most have “flattened out.”  Allen Lesko, with Anthony Road Winery, said in 2003 the Cabernet Franc grapes sold for $1,500 per ton.  In 2006 the price had risen to $1,750.  The decrease started in 2007 when the price fell to around $900 per ton.  He said in 2008 the latest price drop was to $587.
Sayre Fulkerson, owner and wine maker for Fulkerson Vineyards, said he has seen a drop in the price for Riesling grapes.  From 2005 to 2007, Fulkerson sold them at $1,450 per ton.  In 2008 the price dropped to $1,250.  He added his Cayuga grapes sold at their highest in 2006 for $700 per ton.  They have since gone down to $450 per ton, but Fulkerson said that has been a common price for the last 10 years.
Scott Osborn, with Fox Run Vineyards, also said the price situation did not look good this year.
Lesko said that the last few years has also seen an increase in the volume of crops, which is why the price for grapes has fallen recently.  However, Walter-Peterson, said most grape growers in 2008 saw an increase in profits again because of the larger crops.
Fulkerson said prices dropping and an increase in grape production over the last few years could lead to higher quality wine at a less expensive price.  He explained that some high quality vinifera grapes are made into wine that sells for $18 to $25 per bottle.  Now, the same surplus grapes that are unsold could become bottles of wine selling for only $12.  Both Fulkerson and Allen also said grape growers are looking to sell surplus grapes to grape buyers out of the state.

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