More than 267,000 tons of wine grapes harvested last year and valued at nearly $583 million is the largest recorded wine grape crop in the history of Sonoma County, according to the 2012 Sonoma County Crop Report.

The gross production value of all the county’s crops in 2012 was $821.3 million—an increase of 41 percent over the $581 million gross value in 2011, Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said.

“Mild spring temperatures during bloom allowed more berries to set, making clusters bigger and heavier,” Linegar said.

“Summer weather was near perfect with cool mornings and warm sunny afternoons that continued into September, allowing the fruit to ripen evenly and slowly. The result was well balanced fruit of exceptional quality,” Linegar said.

Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers, said great weather and a long growing season led to an additional $236 million in grape revenue in 2012 over 2011.

The majority of vineyards in Sonoma County are family-owned, and only 6 percent of the county’s 1 million acres of land are dedicated to grapes, Kruse said.

“Eighty percent of those grapes are planted on parcels less than 100 acres, and 40 percent are planted on parcels less than 20 acres,” Kruse said.

The crop report reflects gross production values, not the net income or costs of production and marketing.

Market milk, valued at $85 million, and livestock and poultry that includes poultry, cattle, calves, sheep, lambs and hogs valued at $64.3 million are the county’s two next biggest crops.

The livestock and poultry products, that include eggs and market and manufacturing milk, experienced a 7 percent decrease in value.

Apple production fell 29 percent reflecting a 38 percent reduction in yield, Linegar said.

Fruit and nut crops comprise 72 percent of the county’s total production value, according to the report.

Linegar will present the crop report to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

James Lanaras, Bay City News

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