California wine growers are trumpeting this year's crop as a bumper harvest, akin to the 1997 season.

According to the Los Angeles Times, vintners are confident that the plentiful 2005 crop will yield high quality grapes that will produce exceptional vintages. The result is thanks to a long, cool growing season with near perfect weather throughout September and October.

Throughout California, preliminary estimates place the 2005 grape crush at 3.2m tons, about 15% bigger than last year.

Experts predict that favourable US dollar currency rates will enable the industry to sell more wine abroad helping to soak up any excess domestic production. US wine exports, 95% of which come from California, surged 28% year-on-year in 2004 to US$794m.