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SGS expects 30 percent increase on early grapes this year

Scattaglia Growers & Shippers LLC in Traver, CA, does not expect to start its San Joaquin Valley grape harvest this year until the latter part of July, as much as 10-14 days later, even, than last year, according to Louis Scattaglia, managing partner. “We should be underway ... by July 25,” he said June 2.

“Having said that, the crop looks really good. Bunch formation looks outstanding,” he said.

The SGS harvest will start with Flame seedless and Summer Royal black seedless varieties. Those will be followed by Princess green seedless grapes around early to mid-August, the company’s “earliest green out of this area. Then Crimson will start the first week in September,” he said. Those will be followed by other late-season varieties.

SGS will have increases in all of its early varieties this year, according to Mr. Scattaglia. “Production will be up on the early side by about 30 percent over last year’s harvest on the front end. We have young acreage coming in, and we expect better yields.”

The company’s vineyards are located in several areas in the Central San Joaquin Valley, from Ivanhoe north to Sanger and as far west as Kingsburg.

The growth in the company’s grape volume this year follows a similar increase last year, and further increases are projected over the next couple of years as young plantings come into bearing.

“Every single acre is basically SGS-grown” with partner Craig Calandra, a viticulturist, doing the growing, Mr. Scattaglia said in a previous interview.

“The weather has set us back” on this year’s harvest, he said in the June 2 interview. The anticipated start date “could change, obviously, if the warm weather returns. But at this point in time, it hasn’t happened yet, so it is really a matter of what happens going down the road, as far as temperatures go.”

SGS was “just finishing our bloom sprays and will be heading into sizing sprays here shortly, so we have a long way to go. But at this point in time, everything looks good, and we are optimistic,” he said.

“Presently we are in the Mexican grape season,” Mr. Scattaglia continued. “This is our fourth season” with the Mexican grape deal, and it is “a very good program that will take us to mid-July, probably, this year. Then it will transition into our domestic season, which will go through the first week of January. ... It is a little hard to tell yet, but it looks like it will be a smooth transition with little gapping.”

The Mexican deal has been lighter than normal this year, he said. “On the front end, they lost product to frost, as did Coachella.”

Because there has not been a glut of product, the markets have responded “very well,” he said. “Unlike last year when the markets took a pretty severe drop, it has maintained steady pricing, and there is even some talk of prices increasing going forward.” That could bode well for the start of the San Joaquin Valley deal, he said.

SGS will be introducing an innovative new consumer pack this summer, Mr. Scattaglia said. “This year, we will be offering a pouch bag,” a pack style he described as “somewhat between the traditional grape bag and a clamshell” with about 66 percent less plastic than a clamshell. It is semi-rigid, has a handle, and sits upright on a flat base, “so it can stand alone on display.”

It is “a very high visibility package,” and SGS will be offering it in a 1.5-pound fixed weight configuration, he said.

“We have a lot of confidence in the grape category,” said Dave Parker, director of marketing for SGS. “That is why we are increasing our acreage. We have had a very good experience in the grape deal the last three years.”

SGS packs its grapes under the “Sun Disk” label. That label “has taken off and been very well accepted across the country,” Mr. Scattaglia said, adding that the company will be unveiling a new design for the “Sun Disk” box and logo “with our first offerings in July.”