Columbine Vineyards’ Louis Gonzalez Talks Coming Table Grape Season, Expanding Organics, and Potential Biodegradable Packaging

From And Now u Know | 5 July 2022

Overview of table grapes from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on June 29, 2022. 

DELANO, CA – Table grape harvest is approaching for Columbine Vineyards, and with a new partnership coming to fruition, rising demand, and new tests in packaging options, it looks to be a dynamic season for the grower.

“This season, we kicked off our partnership with Four Star Sales Inc. to meet the increasing demands of the fresh table grape industry,” Louis Gonzalez, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Columbine Vineyards, shares. “The collaboration will allow both companies to further the reach of our portfolio of table grape varieties, including our branded proprietary varieties. We continue to see excitement for our grapes, especially with our proprietary Holiday® variety, which is available in conventional and organic.”

So far, the growing season has been optimal with cooler days and cold nights, Louis tells me, adding that this time last year a heat wave caused some bumps. So, this cooler kickoff has the team optimistic for the upcoming harvest.

Columbine Vineyards grows 16 varieties, including red, green, and black, along with its proprietary Holiday variety.

grape prices by variety 5

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

“We are focused on growing our organic program and have transitioned about 10 percent of our acres to organic since 2018. We have also begun growing some of the newer hybrids, including Timpson, Sweet Globe, Chrissy, Timco, and Ivory. Additionally, we are currently trialing varieties from our own genetics nursery,” Louis divulges.

Beyond the fruit itself, the team is constantly looking to its practices and packaging as it celebrates having the first Sustainably Grown Certified table grape producers in the United States last season.

grape prices by type as

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

“This year, we will be testing biodegradable packaging,” Louis promises as Columbine looks to add on to its sustainability accomplishments like water conservation (843 million gallons saved), styrofoam reduction (54 percent reduction between 2019-2020 alone), and carbon sequestration (5,200 metric tons, the equivalent to 1,140 cars off the roads annually).

The certification reportedly represents significant impacts Columbine Vineyards has made over the past few years, coming through SCS Global Services. As a result, all of Columbine’s grape brands, including Holiday grapes, will now carry the SCS Kingfisher Sustainably Grown certification mark.

As the team evaluates alternative packaging solutions to reduce or eliminate plastic—and to do so while retaining high quality and shelf-life of its grapes—it seems there is much left in store as the second half of 2022 gets under way.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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