Growers roll out Cotton Candy, newer grape varieties in phases

07/01/2013 11:38:00 AM
Mike Hornick

Cotton Candy, the seedless green grape whose name evokes the flavor of a carnival or county fair, is entering its first full commercial season at Bakersfield, Calif.-based The Grapery.

Bred by International Fruit Genetics LLC, it’s set for about 100 acres of production, with 100 more planted for future seasons.

The variety, which harvests in August, was released in trial volumes in 2011.

“It actually has a flavor that’s like cotton candy,” said David Cain, who heads breeding at International Fruit Genetics.

More than a decade in development, the Cotton Candy variety is the result of conventional breeding based on plant materials from the University of Arkansas. These plant materials' origins lie in five wild grape species native to the eastern U.S.

The Grapery remains the sole grower of Cotton Candy. Two Hermosillo, Mexico growers — Grupo Molina and Grupo Alta — expect to offer small volumes in 2014, Cain said.

“We will see how popular it is,” he said. “That will dictate how much we’ll actually end up planting.”

Older new varieties

Some IFG varieties that have been on the market a few years are expected to be available in larger quantities.

Sweet Celebration, a red somewhere between flame and crimson on the spectrum, will for the first time have all 800 planted acres in production.

The variety is grown by The Grapery, Pandol Bros. Inc., Jasmine Vineyards and Castle Rock Vineyards.

“This will be the first year where there’s pretty large volume,” Cain said.

Sweet Sunshine, an elongated white grape, enters its second year of production on 600 acres of grown by Jack Pandol, VBZ Grapes and Jasmine Vineyards.

Shipments in experimental volumes of a black seeded grape, Sweet Jubilee, are planned.

“It’s before Autumn Royal and a couple weeks ahead of red globe, so it has a window of its own when it ripens in mid- to late-August,” Cain said.

“It can be shipped before Autumn Royals get shipped out of California into the Chinese markets. It’s doing very well in the Asian markets.”

In another year or two, Cain said, International Fruit Genetics may release a red seedless that combines concord and muscat flavors.

Plantings of that are likely to increase, he said.

Also in the works is something the company calls a strawberry grape. It’s still in testing at vineyards in Mexico, South Africa and California.

“I just saw it a couple of weeks ago in Mexico,” Cain said in early June. “It has a strawberry-like flavor and looks interesting. The United Kingdom markets really like it.”

International Fruit Genetics was founded by Jack Pandol, Jr. and the Stoller family, owners of Sunridge Nurseries, in 2001.



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Robert Schueller    
LA, CA  |  August, 02, 2013 at 10:11 AM

The cotton candy grapes were featured on Good Morning America TV this morning.. exciting grape variety!

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