Winemakers in California are hailing the 2012 harvest as ‘outstanding’, with early estimates suggesting it could be a near-record crop at 3.7m tons.

That’s about 12% up on last year’s small harvest and comes in sharp contrast with trends on the other side of the Atlantic, where poor weather has led to an historically small crop in many European countries.

‘The 2012 vintage will offer consumers in our growing national and international markets fantastic choices,’ said Bobby Koch, president and CEO of California’s Wine Institute.

Frank Cabral, director of grower relations for Trinchero Family Estates, said most varieties had picked at above average yields, adding; ‘The 2012 harvest is shaping up to be one that will become known for its abundance of fruit and quality of wines.’

Bonterra Vineyards winemaker Bob Blue said the harvest was ‘outstanding’ on the north coast, while Alexander Valley Vineyards’ Hank Wetzel said daily temperature swings had helped to boost likely quality.

‘During the summer, we had an abundance of California coastal “sweater” weather – fog in the morning and warm sunshine in the afternoon, often sending temperatures into the mid-90s and then quickly cooling off after sunset,’ he said.

Allied Grape Growers president and CEO Nat DiBuduo added: ‘Overall, the biggest problem this year was that many of the red varietal grapes came in at the same time, filling wineries to capacity.’