Business updates: Coachella Grapes

05/10/2010 10:40:34 AM
Tom Burfield

Bagdasarian boosts volume, adds grape varieties

Table grape volume at Richard Bagdasarian Inc., Mecca, Calif., should be up about 20% this season compared with last year, said Nick Bozick, president.

“(The Coachella Valley) had a short crop last year, but we should have a more normal crop this year,” he said. The company also is adding some table grape varieties this season — sweet scarlet and scarlet royal, he said.

Castle Rock to continue shipping from Peter Rabbit

For the second year, Delano, Calif.-based Castle Rock Vineyards will ship Coachella Valley grapes from the Peter Rabbit Farms cooler in Coachella, said Jim Llano, sales manager at Castle Rock.

“They did a fantastic job for us,” he said.

Castle Rock Vineyards plans to ship about 275,000 cartons of flame, sugraone, thompson and summer royal grapes from Coachella starting the first week of June, he said. In all, the company will ship about 2.8 million cartons of grapes this season.

Desert Fresh replaces some flames with new varieties

Desert Fresh Inc., Coachella, Calif., has replaced a small block of flame seedless grapes with sugraones and a variety that is new to the valley. Blaine Carian, vice president and general manager, said they should be in production next season. Although the company will have one less grower than last year, volume should be similar.

“We’ll pick up some extra tonnage,” Carian said.

East West Unlimited cuts flames, adds sugraones

East West Unlimited LLC, Coachella, Calif., has replaced about 40 acres of its early flame seedless grapes with some sugraone grapes that retailers seem to prefer, said Steve Root, president and chief executive officer. Volume from the company should be about the same as last year, he said.

Gold Coast Growers plans earlier start by next year

Gold Coast Growers LLC, Thermal, Calif., planted some young vines on 150 acres on a warm slope in a high elevation of the Coachella Valley, which should enable the company to get an early start to the season as early as next year, said Mike Rocker, partner and field manager.

“We hope to be among the first to market every year,” he said.

This year, the company should start shipping around mid-May, but next year, Gold Coast expects to market flame seedless grapes by early May, he said. The company is in the process of bringing water to the area and establishing an infrastructure for the new program.

Drake Larson Sales adds flames, reduces perlettes

Drake Larson, partner at Drake Larson Sales, Thermal, Calif., has slashed volume of labor-intensive perlette table grapes to 20 acres, down from 60 acres.

The company replaced them with flame seedless, which are not as expensive to grow, he said. Green sugraone grapes have been overlapping with perlettes more and more in recent years. The perlette will be a “real niche variety” for the company, Larson said.

Sales staff at Stevco Inc. welcomes Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown, a graduate of Arizona State University, has joined the sales department at Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Stevco Inc., said president Dave Clyde.

The company expects to ship 450,000 cartons of flames, sugraones, summer royals, thompsons and scarlet royals from the Coachella Valley this year, starting the week of May 24 and continuing until the second week of July, Clyde said.

Sun World closes gap in tricolor clamshell packs

Bakersfield, Calif.-based Sun World International LLC should find it easier to ship tricolor packs this year after picking up a ranch that will provide flame seedless grapes in June, said Rick Paul, table grape category director.

The addition should enable the company to ship its Rainbow of Flavors clamshells from Coachella until early to mid-June then transition to the San Joaquin Valley and continue to ship for the rest of the season with no gap, Paul said.



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