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Anthony Vineyards expands facilities, plants new organic varieties

BAKERSFIELD, CA — Anthony Vineyards, here, has several new varieties of grapes coming into production or increasing in production this year, mostly in its organic program. As well, “we are adding on to our facilities here,” said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing.

“We are adding two storage rooms as well as a refrigerated room for house packing,” Mr. Harley said. “We do a lot of clamshell packing, and we do, in our organic category, a lot of bi-colored and multiple-colored packs.” Previously, the packing was done in “one of our spare rooms which was under refrigeration. But now we are designing a room specifically for that, and we will have various temperature controls allowing us to pack under a climate in the room that will allow the product not to break refrigeration.”

The cold storage expansion covers about 22,000-25,000 square feet of space, resulting in a 15 percent to 20 percent increase overall, he said.

Anthony started harvesting Flames in the Wheeler Ridge area of the southern San Joaquin Valley Saturday, July 9, Mr. Harley said. The harvest in the Coachella Valley had already finished. “We ended up with about a four- or five-day gap between the two districts” which strengthened the market.

“The grapes look very nice,” he said. “It looks like it is going to be a good-quality year up here in San Joaquin thus far.”

He expected to start Sugraones by July 18 and Summer Royals about the same time, with Red Globes coming on about the first of August.

“Our organic programs are continuing to evolve” at Anthony Vineyards. “We’ve got new varieties coming in on that, and volumes increasing,” he said.

“We have planted some new varieties,” he continued. Among them are Autumn King and Luisco, late season green seedless varieties that “should come on in September and October.” They will be both conventional and organic.”

He added, “We have increases in Sweet Scarlet, a new red variety, as well as Scarlet Royal,” for August, September and October production.

In the company’s “mainstay” varieties, he said, Anthony Vineyards will have “a little increase” in Sugraones for July and August, but Thompson acreage and Princess acreage is “holding steady.” With Red Globes, “we’ve planted … another 60 acres or so.”

Much of the company’s new plantings in recent years have been intended to strengthen the late-season program. There is now an increasing focus on strengthening the organic program. “We want to be able to have a consistent supply of organic grapes,” Mr. Harley said. “We are still building it. That project is ongoing.”

Every variety Anthony Vineyards has in its conventional program it now has in organic as well, he said.