Chardonnay Isn’t Going Anywhere: The 2016 California Grape Crush

The California Grape Crush, an annual report on the region’s wine production, pricing and more, has just published their 2016 findings and America’s favorite wines are alive and well. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon remain the dominant grapes in the U.S. wine country, with Chardonnay accounting for 16 percent of the total crush making it the leading wine grape by volume.

While Chardonnay’s continued lead gives winemakers much to be excited about, the best news is an overall jump in volume across all grapes. Cabernet is always close at Chardonnay’s heels, but this year Pinot Noir increased its footprint by 25 percent. With the latest Nielsen figures showing another climb in U.S. wine consumption, winemakers and distributors across the nation are relieved to find that they will be able to keep up with demand.

The total grape crush from 2016 was 4,277,110 tons, a rise of 9.3 percent from 2015. And, while red grapes dominate the overall crush, Chardonnay continues as the reigning champion among individual grape types. This is certainly good news for Chardonnay lovers, but also for the more creative winemakers of the world who have found Chardonnays especially intriguing to experiment with in small batches in stainless steel wine barrels. After years of clouding the potential of Chardonnay and other white wines with oak barrels, unoaked Chardonnay has taken the wine market by storm and brought a more dynamic and nuanced palette back to America’s most prominent grape.

At Skolnik, we look forward to another year of supporting the success of winemakers with stainless steel wine drums. We are proud to provide such an integral part of the wine industry’s continued innovation and sustainability efforts and hope that the 2016 California Grape Crush encourages more winemakers to embrace the experimental and green potentials of stainless steel wine barrels.