Romeo’s Best, an innovative Australian grower, has been on the lookout for ways of supplying consumers with grapes 52 weeks out of the year. With their most recent license agreement for growing the ARRA varieties bred by Giumarra Vineyards’ subsidiary, Agricultural Research & Development (ARD LLC), it looks like they’ll be achieving their goal.
Currently, the Australian growing season is limited to November through July. But Glenn Egan, Romeo’s Best’s marketing manager, has always had faith that the supply period can be extended to cover the entire year. “We’re in a unique position” he says, “because we can farm in tropical, sub-tropical and traditional Mediterranean climates and with that farming network, we have the potential to produce grapes 52 weeks out of the year. With the right varieties, we can grow year-round and get to the point where we no longer import grapes at all” he says. This concept will make Romeo’s Best the first to achieve a year round supply of grapes in Australia.
In order to achieve their goal, Romeo’s Best focused their interest in the wide range of ARRA varieties. Shachar Karniel together with Sal Giumarra, President of Giumarra Vineyards, are responsible for the breeding of the ARRA varieties.
The ARRA varieties are distributed and commercialized by GRAPA, a family run business belonging to the Karniel family.
“Our family has been growing grapes for five generations, and we know how hard it is to do so” says Rafi Karniel, GRAPA’s Managing Director. “For that reason, our goal is to make grape varieties that are great-tasting, but that are also easier to grow. It takes a lot of courage to grow grapes” he says.
The idea of developing new grape varieties which are simple to grow, can be produced in large volumes in a wide range of climates and keep an excellent flavor are what drive the Giumarra and Karniel families.
“We develop new varieties all the time. We always have an eye to the future, to what the market needs” says Shachar Karniel, ARD’s breeder. “Right now, we’re developing grape varieties that are sweet and have unique flavors. But we also aim to improve varieties in order to reduce costs for growers. We want to develop varieties that yield well, are grower friendly and environmental friendly with great flavor and spectacular color which will be attractive to the consumer” he says.
“The varieties GRAPA has licensed Romeo’s Best to grow is the final piece of the puzzle for our goal of year round grapes” says Tony Romeo, Romeo’s Best’s Managing Director of Business and Marketing. “The setup was in place to grow 12 months out of the year. We had the plans to ship the produce, we had the properties to grow the grapes; we’ve just needed the right varieties” he says.
Now, with the ARRA varieties, by 2014 Romeo’s Best will be the first Australian company to grow grapes 12 months of the year.
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