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Grapeman Farms leading the way in Sonora grapes

To be successful in the Sonora grape business, you need a lot of hustle and determination. So says Jared Lane, vice president of sales and marketing for Grapeman Farms, marketed by Stevco, located in Los Angeles.

The company is a leader in Sonora grapes because of its dedication to providing the best grapes possible to its customers. One sign of that dedication is the trip representatives from the company made to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico — a key location for grapes.

11bf28d2-87b6-417a-afdd-7b66d40acf4d“We lived down there during an entire season, so we actually got to see all the fruit and see everything that’s coming across,” Lane said. “We know what’s going on and see that a little bit better than other producers.”

That is helping the team at Grapeman Farms prepare for the new season. Lane noted the introduction of new types of grapes is one of the big factors in the industry, as those new grapes continue to grow in popularity.

“This year, the industry is trending towards the newer varieties, which are bigger and a little bit better tasting than some of the traditional varieties,” he said. “Our production in the new varieties is going to be a huge jump from last year — we’re going to be up over 200 percent on the newer varieties. That seems to be where the demand is going from the consumer end.”

These new varieties, he added, have tastes that are similar to the grapes people have been buying for decades, but they are a little bigger and stronger, which means they have a longer shelf life.

“And then they have the flavor, which is key,” Lane said. “You have a little bit better flavor profile than what has typically been growing.”

Turning his attention to the current season, Lane said Mexico won’t be providing as many grapes as usual because of an extremely warm winter it experienced. That’s the biggest reason, but another is that there was a cold snap that did some damage.

“This year, Mexico has a lighter crop than they normally do,” he said. “There are still plenty of grapes for promotions out of Mexico but the bunch count is a little bit lower than normal. I think, out of Chile, Chile is going to clean up on green grapes. I think the white grape market will be in high demand.”

Retailers who want to improve grape sales at the store should consider the grapes they’re selling, Lane said.

“They need to buy a premium grape, they need a higher-quality grape,” he said. “Different producers produce different types of quality. Grape quality has a very wide range of quality and condition and a wide range of prices.”

He also noted that retailers shouldn’t be so concerned with price to the point that the quality of the grapes they offer suffers.

“I think sometimes people get tied into a price and don’t look at the quality of what that price is,” Lane said. “There’s a price point for all grapes but as you get into the lower price points, you’re going to tend to get a weaker-quality grape, one that’s not going to hold up as long on the shelf, one that hasn’t been grown with all the micronutrients and macronutrients as the grape that’s going to cost a little more.”