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Columbine Vineyards adds two high-profile industry veterans to staff

Anthony Stetson, formerly vice president of sales at Pandol Bros. Inc. in Delano, CA, is now on the sales desk at Combine Vineyards in Delano, according to Keith Andrew, who is also in sales.

Columbine has also hired Kevin Andrew, “who is my brother,” as chief operating officer, “running our field department — growing operations,” he said.

Kevin Andrew was previously chief operating officer at Sun World International in Bakersfield, CA.

“Also from Sun World,” Denise Smith has joined Columbine in sales support, Mr. Andrew continued.

Other than the staff additions, there is “not a lot new or different” at Columbine this year, Mr. Andrew said. However, the 2012 season will see some changes on the production side with new grape varieties coming into bearing. “We will have two new patented varieties coming on. We will [also] have more volume” on some of the varieties Columbine is already growing. So “next year looks like there should be some good changes for us.”

But “this year is almost a mirror image of last year,” Mr. Andrew said.

Last year’s table grape crop had “one of the later start dates on record,” and it will be “late again” this year, he said. “Cool weather is pushing us back to about like last year.”

Due to the cool weather, “the berry size may be a little rangy instead of uniform, he said. “But the volume seems to be OK.”

He expected to begin shipping “probably the week of the 18th of July,” which is similar to last year. “If we get warmer weather, it may move up a day or two or maybe three. If it stays this cool or cooler, it may move pick a few days,” he said June 6.

Packaging options will also mirror last year. On a recent marketing trip, Mr. Andrew said, he asked customers if they wanted “to try anything different” for the 2011 season, and “they said, ‘No, let’s just keep going the way we are going.’“