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One-stop shopping promise of Anthony Vineyards

With multiple varieties in all the colors and with both organic and conventional options, Anthony Vineyards Inc., touts itself as a one-stop shop that can handle all of the grape needs of its retail customers.

Sales Manager Rob Spinelli said the Bakersfield, CA-based firm has a full complement of varieties including the newer, high-flavored options that are winning great support from consumers and the retail community. He noted the firm will have several of the “Candy” varieties, a new line of grape varieties that promote their sweet flavor in the varietal name.

Spinelli was speaking to The Produce News on July 5 as the grape deal was battling out of a period of oversupply. Mexico had a big crop this year that was very late. Consequently, he said suppliers from that country were “dumping” fruit on the market as it neared the end of its traditional marketing time slot with a lot of fruit still in its coolers. Producers in the Coachella Valley were also still in the game with their late varieties. Spinelli anticipated that by mid-July, most San Joaquin Valley shippers will be in the deal and Coachella Valley will be exiting. At that point, buyers will be able to fill their complete orders from the Central Valley and that’s where they will be sourcing. He noted that it becomes much more efficient to buy all your grapes from one district rather than sending trucks down to the border or to multiple districts in California. That is especially true as truckers are under increased scrutiny with regard to following regulations concerning hours of service. Filling their trucks as quickly as possible with as few stops as possible is always their goal.

While Anthony Vineyards Inc. prides itself on offering a wide list of both conventional and organic table grapes to its customers, it has focused a lot of its attention on organics as it moves toward transitioning the lion’s share of the company-owned acreage to that production method.

Recently, Spinelli said: “We are close to 70 percent right now. Every year, the Bianco family — the owners of Anthony Vineyards — convert more of their acreage. They have made a commitment. We are not in and out of the organic deal.”

He said the family has thousands of acres of its own vineyards in organic production. It also sources conventional grapes from other growers to be able to fill all the needs of its customers. The Bianco family first got into the organic grape business in 2002 when it purchased a 300-400 acre organic vineyard in the San Joaquin Valley. By the following year, Anthony Vineyards was selling organic table grapes and its volume has increased on a steady basis ever since. It took about a decade for the volume to rise to the point where it could offer its customers consistent supply on many different varieties, but that time has come.

“Organic grapes have become mainstream with demand continuing to grow,” he said. “We haven’t seen any decline in demand for organic grapes. There is still abuzz around organics. Now we are also selling our organic grapes to the export market. Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan… many of the Pacific Rim markets.”

Spinelli said the company is currently evaluating the many new high-flavor varieties to determine which will work best under organic cultivation techniques.