Anthony Vineyards is all about the grape
Anthony Vineyards’ California grape season began in July out of the San Joaquin Valley, but things are really expected to really kick into high gear over the next few weeks.
“We’re getting into the meat and potatoes of the grape season here, in August and September,” said Rob Spinelli, who works in sales for Anthony Vineyards, which grows grapes in the Coachella Valley and in Bakersfield, CA, where it’s headquartered.
August typically sees a slow-down, but that wasn’t the case in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year, no one could do anything — their activity was going to supermarkets and retail stores, those were the only things that were open,” Spinelli said. “This year, you have people vacationing, going out of town, and eating at restaurants, so we’re at the tradition dog days of August, where last year we didn’t have a slow down at all.”
Spinelli explained that there is growing excitement about new varieties, including Sweet Hearts, which are bright-cherry-red grapes with a little bit of muscat flavor, and a 20 brix sugar level. Anthony Vineyards sells those mainly in a one-pound clamshell for retail so that it stands out from traditional grapes, though it’s also sold in bags.
Another exciting variety is the Sweet Sapphire, which is a long, black grape.
“That’s been around now for about five years or so, it’s taken off a little bit,” Spinelli said. “Some retailers are carrying that as their only black grape option now so that they’re not competing with other black grapes. Black grapes still aren’t the biggest mover, and if you’re going to put a black grape out there, it might as well be something different. It eats well and more people are understanding that variety.”
Anthony Vineyards is a family-owned company that was founded in 1972, though the family’s history in the grape business dates back four generations.
“We’re growing and expanding into the grape front, we’re adding on more acreage every year, strengthening our organic program and our conventional program,” Spinelli said. “We’re taking out some of the varieties that are not producing and replanting with newer varieties that get better production.”
Anthony Vineyards ships grapes throughout the United States and into Canada. It also exports grapes
“This year is a little challenging on the exports due to delays that we’re seeing in the ports, which has been going on since the end of the last year, beginning of this year,” Spinelli said. “Port delays are making transit times longer and that’s just not a benefit to the grower or anybody on that end when you’re shipping fruit across the world.”
In addition to grapes, the company also grows dates in the Coachella Valley.
“They’re coming up on harvest of the new crop of Medjool dates and Deglet dates, we sell that under the Sun Date label,” Spinelli said.