Skip to main content

- Advertisement -

California growers say fresh grapes are on the way

By
Kyle Eberth

There’s a lot of energy and excitement this time of year as table grape season ramps up in California. In 2021 California grape growers harvested more than 97 million boxes of table grapes — an estimated crop value of $2.1 billion — per the California Table Grape Commission. Furthermore, those numbers represent 99 percent of all commercially grown grapes in the United States.

California grapes are available May through December, with early districts getting their start May 9. Joseph Tudor, director of operations and co-owner at Tudor Ranch is passionate about supporting California produce. “We want buyers to know we are U.S.-grown and Coachella table grapes are in season,” he said. With other districts starting up later in the calendar, Tudor and the team at Tudor Ranch want to raise the awareness of their Coachella season. “Some buyers are not even aware that they have a choice between May and June — our grapes are here… today,” said Tudor.

Tudor forecasts an increase in volume over the last year. “We are seeing excellent size and quality, largely due to the ideal chill hours we received throughout the California winter and spring,” he said.

Up north, another grower noted that the cooler weather in the San Joaquin Valley shouldn’t really have much effect on timeline and production, adding that a majority of the vines had a good bunch count and expecting there to be very good quality from start to finish.

Mitch Wetzel, vice president of sales and marketing for Sunview Marketing International said, “In our expert opinion, this year’s grape season outlook is looking very strong. We are excited about supplying our fresh grapes to our retail partners and consumers worldwide.”

Louie Galvan of Fruit Royale said their San Joaquin program will steadily ramp up with production peaking in mid-summer. “Our promotions will kick in right around the end of July and will last us through the Thanksgiving Holiday at the very least,” he said.

Within the industry there is a lot of talk about new varieties and niché offerings, but at the end of the day grape promoters say it all comes down to sweetness and size. “There’s almost too many to list,” said Galvan. “Our focus simply has been drawing in consumers and retailers with eye-catching size and hooking them with outstanding flavor.”

One area of concern for California growers is an abundance of product in storage on the East Coast — remnants of the past off season. John Harley from Anthony Vineyards spoke to the oversaturation. “There was a surge of volume toward the latter part of the Chilean import deal,” said Harley, who remained confident adding, “it’s not anything that we haven’t dealt with in the past. We’re well equipped having been at this for the past 20 years.” Price optimization for table grapes is a careful balancing act for growers and retailers.

At large the fresh produce industry is facing increased cost on labor and logistics, with California growers there is the added concern over availability of water.

Fortunately, demand for table grapes is consistently strong, particularly during the U.S. summer months, where table grapes are a top-of-mind healthy treat for consumers and a staple in produce departments. “Grapes are a healthy product. They’re sought after and are always top of mind for consumers this time of year,” said Harley.

Kyle Eberth

Kyle Eberth

About Kyle Eberth  |  email

Kyle Eberth is new to the produce industry, but has grown up around it, in proclaimed "Apple Capitol of the World," Wenatchee, WA. For the past 14-years he has worked in the non-profit sector with an emphasis on brand storytelling, community engagement, and donor relationships.

Kyle graduated from Whitworth University (Spokane, WA) in 2007. He and wife Kelsey were married shortly thereafter, when they moved to Wenatchee to launch their careers.  Kyle is "Dad" to Brooklyn and Hudson, together the Eberths enjoy skiing, biking, their family and friends, and playing together in the beautiful place they get to live.

Tagged in:

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -