Last month, Grapa and Giumarra hosted open field days in Bakersfield, California to give potential licensees a look at the ARRA grape varieties developed through the ARD breeding program. The ARD event hosted over 200 attendees over three days, in what was their biggest event to date.
“This was the largest three-day event we’ve had,” said Shachar Karniel, Grapa founder and head of the ARD breeding program. “There were growers from all over the world, but most growers were South American.” With a good mix of current and prospective licensees, Karniel observed that one of the reasons for the large turnout from South America was the good buzz ARRA varieties have enjoyed from current plantings down south.
“A lot of people at the event were exposed to our varieties last year in commercial vineyards in Peru and Brazil,” said Karniel. “There were a lot of varieties planted in Chile as well, so we also have people coming to get a first-hand look at how those varieties will look as their grapes mature.” That increased interest from South America fits well with ARD and Giumarra’s plans to give their ARRA varieties a larger global presence.
“Most of the production is outside North America, but we are going to expand soon,” said Randy Giumarra, vice president of sales for Giumarra. “In the future, we want to have year-round production all over the world.” Aside from the benefits of having year-round supplies, Giumarra noted that some varieties do better in certain climates, so matching those varieties with growers in areas where those grapes will do well will result in a better product. Expansion also fits with a larger trend where retailers are looking for new varieties.
“More people are showing an interest in more varieties,” said Rafi Karniel, managing director for Grapa. “That creates pressure from retailers and importers for new varieties.” Good feedback from retailers who have experience with the grapes has fueled the word of mouth that brought a good turnout for August’s open field days, added Rafi Karniel. Also contributing to the success of this year’s event has been the varieties the ARD program has delivered, according to Shachar Karniel, which combine all of the traits growers and retailers look for in grapes.
“The response we’ve had is that our varieties have good flavor, good eating quality, shape and color,” said Shachar Karniel. “They’re also cheap to grow, so you get good productivity and maximal income.”
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