The Oppenheimer Group is delivering grapes grown with a little extra heart through the holidays, thanks to Brazil's largest Rainforest Alliance-certified grape producer.
Fazendas Labrunier grows Red Globes, Festivals, Thompsons and more in Brazil's São Francisco Valley. While Labrunier has marketed through Oppenheimer since 2008, this season brings a much-anticipated fully Rainforest Alliance-certified crop.
"We have been very impressed by the initial shipments we've seen from Labrunier this fall," Bill Poulos, director of import grapes for Oppy, said in a press release. "The fruit has good color and consistent sizing, and delivers the sweetness consumers are looking for.
"The growing season was quite dry, which reduced the volume of the crop but has enhanced the quality and shelf life," Mr. Poulos continued, noting that the Thompsons from Labrunier are particularly exceptional. "The berries have a very good finish, texture and even color. While Brazil is known for its Festivals, Labrunier Thompsons are something special."
Mr. Poulos also points to Rainforest Alliance certification as a compelling point of differentiation for Labrunier grapes.
"The quality of this fruit, combined with the Rainforest Alliance seal, makes it a very appealing promotional item for the holidays," he added in the press release. "The Rainforest Alliance certification may be particularly resonant with shoppers who are thinking a little more about taking care of the world around them during this reflective time of year."
Fernando Olic, sales executive for Labrunier, relocates to Newark, DE, each season to work alongside the Oppy sales and quality assurance teams. He noted that Rainforest Alliance is not only meaningful to North American consumers, it underpins activities that Labrunier has underway in areas where it produces grapes, making a positive difference for many.
"We are involved in a comprehensive social project called 'Build a School,' implemented in conjunction with the Brazilian NGO IQE (Teaching Quality Institute)," he said in the press release. "Labrunier sponsors the training of teachers on the Petrolina region. The program benefits more than 10,000 students in the area where Labrunier grapes are grown."
In addition, Labrunier donates school supplies for the children of its own employees, and employs disabled workers in its operation to do jobs suited to their skills.
The grower also focuses on the environmental aspects of Rainforest Alliance certification. In addition to setting aside over 2,000 acres of wildlife reserves on its property, Labrunier has introduced recent disciplines around water use reduction and organic fertilizers to produce grapes more sustainably.
Mr. Olic says that sustainability is not just about the environment and worker welfare, but also about looking ahead to a successful future.
"We are testing more than 80 new grape varieties on our farms, making it one of the biggest private new grape variety projects in the world," he said in the press release. "We are developing this initiative in partnership with breeders from the U.S., Europe, Israel, South Africa and Brazil. Some of the new varieties have already presented outstanding results and will be available in the market soon."
Rainforest Alliance-certified grapes from Labrunier are available from The Oppenheimer Group through the end of the year.