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Top Brass grape lineup includes new varieties, classic standards

This year in the San Joaquin Valley of California, Top Brass Produce in Delano, CA, the sales arm of Vignolo Farms, will have “six varieties of red seedless grapes, seven varieties of green seedless grapes, and three of black seedless,” according to Brett Dixon, president.

The company farms conventional and organic table grapes, 14 varieties of wine grapes and several varieties of organic potatoes, all in the San Joaquin Valley.

01-Top-Brass-Sales-and-Support-TeamThe Top Brass sales and support staff in front of the company’s new sales office.The grape shipping season typically starts in early July and continues into November and December. This year, Dixon anticipates a starting date about a week later than normal.

“One of the things Top Brass really prides itself in is our farming department and our commitment to quality,” Dixon said. “We wait until the grapes are naturally ready to harvest as opposed to picking them simply based upon market conditions.”

In green seedless varieties, “we start off with Sugraone.” That will be followed by Ivory and then, in August, by Princess and Thompson. Ivory, he said, is a newer variety. The company had a little last year and will have more this year. “Also in the green category is our Sweet Globe, a mid-season variety available in September and October. Then we will end up with Autumn King through the end of the year,”

In red varieties, Top Brass will start with Flames and Scarlet Royals in July and August. The company also has Timco, Sweet Scarlet, Scarlet Royal, Jack’s Salute and Allison. Jack’s Salute, a red seedless grape with medium to large elongated to slightly oval berries, is new for the company this year. It is expected to come off in September and October.

The first early-season black grape for Top Brass will be Summer Royal followed in August by Sweet Sapphire and, for the late season, Autumn Royal. “This will be our first year for Sweet Sapphire,” a very sweet grape with an unusual elongated shape. “We have been getting very good reception” from consumers and customers for that variety, he said.

“Our Top Brass’s organic grape program continues to grow, and we have continued to dedicate additional acreage for organics” to that program, Dixon said. “We have that in red and green, in varieties similar to what we have in conventional.”

One initiative Top Brass completed during the offseason this year was construction on a new sales office adjacent to the company’s cold storage facility. Previously, “we had sales in one area and some of the support staff in other areas,” Dixon said. The new facility provides one location where everyone in sales and sales support is now under one roof. “Everyone moved in before the potato season started,” which was well in advance of the start of the grape season.

“We are excited” about the coming grape season, he said. “The weather has been good, and we are well situated this year in terms of water so we are looking forward to a great year.”