Californian grape farmers received record prices for their production this year in spite of softening market conditions for wine. Napa prices were up by 15% with Sonoma's rising by 6%.

Meanwhile, North Coast producers received a record US$849 million for their harvest. However, prices in Mendocino County fell and were flat in Lake County.

The figures were published in the California Department of Food and Agriculture's preliminary grape crush report. Wine industry chiefs said that long-term contracts were sustaining prices as demand weakened.

As a result of its high volume of premium grapes, Sonoma County's crop was the highest in value terms, coming in at US$374 million, with Napa County's crop reaching US$359 million.

The Mendocino County and Lake County harvests were worth US$87 million and $29 million respectively. In total, California growers harvested 3 million tons of wine grapes, 9% down from the record 3.3 million-ton crop in 2000.