Final figures from the US Department of Agriculture show that the California wine grape harvest slowed in 2004, and that average prices ticked up as the industry comes back into balance.

California's total grape crush rose 7% to 3,615,231 tons in 2004, in line with preliminary figures released last month. But much of the gain came from table and raisin grapes. The wine grape harvest slipped to 2,774,894 tons, down from 2,863,796 tons in 2003 and well below 2002 levels.

The state's 17 grape-growing districts crushed 1,638,658 tons of red wine grapes, unchanged from a year ago. White wine grapes slipped 8% to 1,136,236 tons.

Red wine grapes brought US$626.69 a ton, gaining 3%. White wine prices rose 14% to US$487.47. Grapes grown in Napa county received the highest prices at US$2,935.77, followed by Sonoma and Marin counties at US$1,869.14.

Zinfandel grapes showed the most strength among varietals, with prices increasing 11% to US$473.47 a ton. Chardonnay rose 4% to $693.77, while Cabernet Sauvignon slipped 3% to US$977.71.