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Columbine looks ahead to changes

For Columbine Vineyards in Delano, CA, the 2011 grape season will be “almost a mirror image of last year,” according to Keith Andrew, who is on sales with the company.

Planted acreage and the variety mix this year is “all the same” as the year before, he said.

But there are changes coming.

Because of new plantings not yet in production, the 2012 season will see new grape varieties coming into bearing including two new patented varieties, as well as increased volume on some varieties Columbine is already growing, he said.

The start of the harvest was delayed by cool spring weather for the second year in a row. Mr. Andrew said July 11 that he expected to see the firm’s first Flames harvested in the state’s Arvin district in the southern San Joaquin Valley around July 13-15, with Delano starting five days later.

Fantasy black seedless and Summer Royal black seedless were expected to start early to mid-August and Majestic by mid-August, he said. Red Globes were scheduled to start in late August.

By mid-September, he expected that timing would be fairly normal on the remaining varieties.

Black Globe, Holiday and Majestic are all proprietary and are Columbine exclusives. Black Globe is a very large, very sweet seeded grape with a strong following in export markets. Holiday and Majestic are red seedless varieties.

Columbine will continue shipping into mid-December.

As previously reported in The Produce News, Mr. Andrew's brother, Kevin Andrew, previously chief operating officer at Sun World International LLC in Bakersfield, CA, is now chief operting officer at Columbine in charge of growing operations, and Anthony Stetson, formerly vice president of sales at Pandol Bros. Inc. in Delano, is now on the sales desk at Columbine.