Price of wine expected to drop to lowest in years due to grape surplus

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(CNN) – Raise your glasses and toast to cheaper wine prices.

The price of wine is expected to drop to its lowest levels in five years thanks, in part, to a surplus of California grapes.

Combined with a decreased demand for wine, drinkers can expect to get better value for every drop they drink this year. The cheaper prices may even last up to three years.

Vineyards in Northern California began planting thousands of acres of new vines in 2016, and with more efficient harvesting methods, it has led to more bountiful harvests of grapes.

Having more grapes to make wine sounds good, but if there’s not enough demand to support increased production, the surplus grapes go to waste.

Jeff Bitter, president of Allied Grape Growers, told CNN that it’s possible for surplus grapes to make it to the secondary market, where they’re used for brandy or as grape concentrate. But that market doesn’t typically provide sustainable returns for growers.

“The main cause of oversupply today is the culmination of a few years of slowing wine shipment growth, with an ample 2018 wine grape crop as an exclamation point,” Bitter said. “Until 2015, wine shipments had grown, almost predictively, for two decades. The slowdown in growth has caught the industry by surprise.

“Since it takes up to five years to bring wine to market from the initial planning stages of planting a vineyard, it makes hitting future demand very complicated. In this case, we overshot demand.”

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(This story was originally published on Feb. 18, 2020)

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