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Published March 23, 2010, 08:11 AM

Chardonnay helps Calif grape crush top 4 million tons

FRESNO, Calif. — Chardonnay led the way last year as California vintners crushed more than 4 million tons of grapes, up from 3.7 tons in 2008.

FRESNO, Calif. — Chardonnay led the way last year as California vintners crushed more than 4 million tons of grapes, up from 3.7 tons in 2008.

Although the white wine grape was the single most popular grape varietal crushed during the 2009 harvest, accounting for nearly 18 percent of the total, more red grapes were proc-essed overall for wines and juices, according to figures released by U.S. agriculture officials this month.

Zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon grapes were the second-most popular in the survey.

Grapes from Napa returned the highest prices to growers at $3,414 a ton, far above the statewide average of $617 a ton paid for wine grapes.

Last year was only the second time California’s crush surpassed 4 million tons. The other year was 2005.

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