School of Economic Sciences

Agribusiness Management

Wine Grape Establishment and Production Costs in Washington, 2003

The Washington wine grape growing/producing sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the state. Since overtaking New York as the second largest wine producer in 1998, Washington wine acreage has increased from 16,820 total acres to 28,000 in 2002, and there are still intentions to plant even more vinifera wine grapes. In comparing July 1999 with January 2002, the bearing acreage for white varieties has increased 21%, while the red varieties’ bearing acreage has increased 74%. Chardonnay continues to be the leading white variety, with Cabernet Sauvignon slightly edging Merlot as the most popular red variety.

Since 1997, wine grape production in Washington has nearly doubled from 62,000 tons to a record high 115,000 tons in 2002. The average price received by growers during 2002 was $878 per ton, down slightly from the previous year. With the increase in wine grape acreage, record high production can continue to be expected in the next few years.

This study was done to assess the economic costs and profitability of establishing and producing a vineyard based on 2002 prices and current managing and growing practices. The primary objective of this study is to estimate the establishment and production costs of the major red and white varieties grown in Washington, Merlot and Chardonnay. To estimate the economic costs of establishment and production for this study it is necessary to:

  1. Specify the practices commonly followed in Washington to establish and maintain a 55-acre vineyard.
  2. Estimate the costs of those practices and compare them with possible levels of receipts to establish profitability.

*Trent Ball is an Associate in Research, working with Dr. Ray Folwell, on the wine and asparagus industry research.

*Dr. Ray Fowell is a professor, emeritus, at Washington State University. He is involved in research for viticultural, enological, and economic aspects of wine grape production in Washington, specifically focusing on analyzing the production and marketing risk in producing various varieties of vinifera grapes in Washington research.

Dr. Folwell is currently acting as Interim Coordinator of the Viticulture and Enology Program. As acting coordinator his is involved in directing the Viticulture and Enology Education Consortium, which includes WSU, Columbia Basin College, Walla Walla Community College, Wenatchee Valley Community College, Yakima Valley College and the Washington Wine Commission. The purpose of the Education Consortium is to better serve the growing needs of the Washington wine industry. One method to meet the growing needs is with the development of the new Viticulture and Enology degree option at Washington State University.

For more indepth information see the new viticulture and Enology site at

Extension Bulletin 1955


Printer icon linked to summary fileCopy of EB1955 in pdf format may be downloaded here.


watering vines in field



Grape to processor



wine barrels

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