Tudor Ranch 10 days later than 2018, but volume expected to be up

by Tim Linden | April 29, 2019

Longtime Coachella Valley grape grower and packer Tudor Ranch Inc. has undergone some cosmetic changes in the sales and marketing of its fruit, but below the surface everything will remain the same.

“We will basically have the same sales team,” said George Tudor, who is the principal owner of the operation. He noted that the salesmen at the shuttered VBZ Vineyards in Delano, CA, have started a new sales firm and will continue to sell Tudor’s grapes. “And we still have Tastyfrutti (International Inc. in Philadelphia). Andy (Economou) has been coming out here for more than 20 years to sell the deal and he’s coming again this year. We will have the same salesmen and expect to have the same customer base that we have had for years.”

About half a dozen years ago, Tudor Ranch added a sales and marketing agreement with VBZ as an adjunct to its longtime relationship with Tastyfrutti. But recently, it was reported that Vincent B. Zaninovich & Sons (VBZ Vineyards) sold its more than 6,000 acres near Delano to one or more firms, including The Wonderful Company, and exited the table grape deal.

Members of VBZ’s sales team — Chance Kirk, Justin Gonzales and Joseph Tudor — subsequently established Silver Canyon Sales and will continue to sell Tudor’s grapes occupying the same role that VBZ had, according to George Tudor. Kirk, who is the CEO of Silver Canyon, said he will be director of retail and foodservice sales, while Gonzales will handle export and retail sales, and Joseph Tudor, who is George Tudor’s brother, will be director of operations. Besides grapes, Silver Canyon is expecting to handle other commodities, including Tudor Ranch’s dates and lemons.

As far as the Coachella Valley grape deal is concerned, George Tudor is expecting to start harvesting and shipping grapes in earnest between May 15 and 20, which is about 10 days later than last year. He expect s the company’s grape volume to be up a bit this year, both because of better growing conditions and the establishment of younger, stronger vineyards. He explained that over the past four years, Tudor Ranch has been following the trends and replacing some older varieties and vineyards with newer, better-yielding cultivars.

“We have replaced some vineyards past their prime with newer vines,” he said. “And just like people, young grapes tend to produce better.”

Tudor said about 400 acres have been replanted and he expects about 25 percent more volume from those vineyards. Kirk added that they will be selling both Valley Pearl and Ivory grapes for the first time this year. Both are green grapes. “We also are expecting about 15 percent more flames because of some new plantings.”

Tudor Ranch is also re-introducing a label this year after a long hiatus. “Once again we are going to be packing grapes under the VMT label,” said Tudor. “Those are my dad’s initials. We haven’t used that label in about 20 years.”

The label will be marketed alongside the Mecca, CA, grower’s Brother’s Pride label, which has long been its standard bearer.

Kirk said the grapes look great this year and he is expecting a “high-quality year” with volume hitting its stride in the second half of May. He credited one of the coldest winters in recent memory giving the vines plenty of chill hours, which tends to lead to robust production of good-quality fruit.

Students gain real world experience thanks to L&M internships
The future of the produce industry will depend largely on new people being introduced to the field, which is why L&M Cos. offers internships based on seasonal needs throughout the L&M farms, warehouses and sales teams. “Intern programs in fresh produce are great exposure for young people to be a part of a vital industry,” Read More ...
New Whole Foods Market features 75 local growers
Whole Foods Market recently opened a new 35,000-square-foot store in East Austin, TX. Special features of the new East Austin store include: Produce department offering a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including selections from about 75 local growers throughout the year including fresh flowers, peaches and Read More ...
Retailer announces plans to rebuild
CUB and its franchise partner Jerry’s Foods announced its commitment to the Minneapolis community to rebuild its Broadway Avenue and Lake Street stores, both of which are owned by Jerry’s Foods. CUB also announced that while those two locations remain closed, CUB plans to open temporary community stores at each location to Read More ...
Sun World takes firm stance on IP rights breach
California-based variety development and licensing company Sun World International LLC has reached settlement of a dispute with a prominent Australian table grape producer (and associated entities) within the Sunraysia region. This follows breaches of Sun World’s intellectual property and contractual rights discovered Read More ...
Fall Creek names regional director for Mexico
Fall Creek Farm & Nursery Inc., a global blueberry breeding and nursery company, has announced that Alberto Medina-Mora has joined the company as regional director for Mexico. Most recently, Medina-Mora served as senior director of development and innovation at NatureSweet Mexico, a vertically integrated tomato grower, Read More ...