California vineyard acreage dropped 2 percent overall last year, with an especially sharp decline in recent plantings, a new state report says.

This should prove welcome news for an industry that's been plagued by an oversupply of grapes and falling prices for the past few years. Despite this, the acreage of productive wine vineyards hit a new high last year.

Total 2002 grape acreage was estimated at 932,000 acres by the California Agricultural Statistical Service, down 2 percent from 951,000 acres the year before.

The two major grape categories -- raisin and table -- also showed overall acreage declines, with the amount of bearing acres and newer, nonbearing acres, dropping, the Grape Acreage Report said.

However, bearing winegrapes hit a new high of 486,000 acres in 2002, up 1 percent from 2001. That was due to a surge of winegrape plantings that peaked in the late 1990s.

Despite wine consumption contining to growin the US, California's boom production combined with increased imports created an oversupply of grapes and bulk wines. While the net effect has been a reduction in grower's profits, consumers have seen better wines on the shelves at lower prices than ever before.