California crop down in 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon is particularly affected due to frosts and forest fires

A "crazy weather" year of frosts and bushfires has particularly affected California's crops of Cabernet Sauvignon, and could push prices for good Cabernet grapes up .

Cabernet Sauvignon made up 8.9% of California's total crush in 2008, compared to 11.6% in 2007, according to the California Department of Food & Agriculture.

Bill Leigon, of Hahn Family Wines, said some people believe the Cabernet crop is down 40% this year, largely thanks to bushfires in Sonoma and Mendocino

- and he is certain it will affect prices.

"The market is already bifurcated. The good stuff goes up and the bad stuff goes down," he said. "People who have Cabernet

are going to be in a

good position."

Lucy Zorina, brand manager for Beringer at Foster's EMEA, said the harvest was down for all grape varieties.

"We had all the hazards we could get

in California - forest fires, excess of

rain, so pretty much all companies lost

a bit of the harvest. On average we ha d

15 days of frost, but last year we had 31."

John McLaren, UK director of the California Wine Institute, said: " The harvest is slightly less than the previous year. The feeling is the size of the harvest will bring things into line. It will meet obligations without there being a flood of wine."

The Napa Valley

Vintners association hailed 2008 as a low-yielding but high-quality vintage.