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Sundale continues facility expansion, expects good late-season crop

“Our expansion on the facility out here continues,” said Sean Stockton, president of Sundale Sales Inc. in Tulare, CA, Aug. 5.

Currently under construction was a new house pack facility along with an expansion of the company’s cold storage which would “add another 150,000 boxes of cold storage space” as well as new pre-coolers, Mr. Stockton said. “All that will be up and running by sometime around the first of September,” according to projections.

Earlier this year, the company completed construction of a new 5,500-square-foot office addition. “We’re settled into the new office” now, he said.

“We are expecting a real good crop on our late season product” this year, Mr. Stockton said. He expected to start Crimsons and Scarlet Royals around mid-August and Autumn Royals in early September, “followed up mid- to late September by Autumn King. We will continue to harvest all of those varieties through the end of October.”

Quality is “outstanding,” he said, and “the market is projected to stay strong.”

For the industry as a whole, the Autumn Royal variety appears to be light this year, Mr. Stockton said. “But we feel very good about ours. We look to be above the curve and have a fairly good-size crop on our ranches.”

On all varieties “across the board” this year, “the yields have been very good for us, and the outlook is very positive for the rest of the year,” he said.

Sundale’s grape volume continues to grow, with production increases in all of the company’s “core varieties,” Mr. Stockton said. For this fall, “we have new acreage coming in on Autumn King, Scarlet Royal and Sundale Reds.”

The company’s total projected volume for the season will be up by around 25 percent over last year’s 2.8 million-box crop, he said. “We expect to have a harvest of well over 3.5 million boxes total this year.”

Sundale “continues to offer a multitude of pack styles from bags to clamshells,” he said.

The company’s vine covering program “will start by September 1,” Mr. Stockton said. “We will have all of our late-season varieties under cover. Autumn Kings, Autumn Royals, Sundale Reds and Crimsons will all be protected from any late-season rains.”

Protecting the vineyards from late-season rains by covering the vines with plastic has proven to be a good investment for the company.

“With the exception of one year over the last five, there has been some kind of late-season rain that has affected the marketplace, and we have been protected and prepared for it. That has allowed us to have a very successful late season,” he said.