Good news - California grape harvest bountiful in 2009

Mother Nature brought a bountiful harvest to California grape growers in 2009, making last year only the second time in the past decade that the state's crush has exceeded 4 million tons.

A total of 4,089,160 tons were crushed last year, up 11 percent from the previous year, according to the preliminary 2009 Grape Crush Report released Wednesday by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

In District 8, which includes San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the total crop was more than 214,000 tons, up 37 percent.

For consumers, the record-producing year means high-quality wines at bargain prices, growers and winemakers say.

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