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California Winegrape Harvest Jumped 23% In 2009

Analysts say wine drinkers will continue to see high quality bottles at low prices following a 23 percent spike in California's winegrape harvest last year.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture's preliminary grape crush report, released Wednesday, shows the state produced 3.69 million tons of wine grapes in 2009. That's just shy of the record 2005 crush of 3.76 million tons.

Jon Fredrikson, a wine industry consultant, says many growers decided to increase production in 2009 in the face of growing competition from low-priced foreign growers. Favorable weather also played a role.

Brian Clements, a Novato wine and grape broker, says the 2009 crop will allow wine makers to produce more of the lower-priced wines that have become hot sellers during the economic downturn.

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