It’s harder, Pandol said, for Chile to innovate too aggressively with new varieties because of regulatory hurdles.
“Introduction of new varieties has been slower in Chile than other places because the commercial conditions a grower must agree to are too expensive and restrictive.”
That said, he does expect a continuation of a trend that began several years ago.
“There will be a continuation of thompsons going away, and there’s no clear white grape to replace it,” he said.
That’s more true in Chile than in California and other growing regions, because of the country’s reluctancy to move too quickly on new varieties, Pandol said.
While a replacement (or replacements) for the venerable thompsons will eventually be found, there’s only one ongoing trial of a new green (or white) grape variety that Pandol knows about.
But when you look at the grape category as a whole, however, it’s a different story.
“You have more and more people creating new varieties,” he said. “Supply and demand will eventually flip-flop. There will be too many varieties chasing too few growers.”
Thompson, flames, crimsons and sugraones will be the dominant varieties shipped from Chile to North America this season, said Karen Brux, North American managing director of the Sonoma, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.
“Thompson and sugraone are available to the end of March, flames end a little sooner and crimsons are a late variety which run from January all the way through the marketing order,” Brux said.