REEDLEY, CA - With summer upon us, Bravante Vineyards, Bravante Produce's table grape operation in the San Joaquin Valley, is gearing up for the 2018 harvest and is ripe for the retail picking. As we move toward the season start, I tapped Steve Shearer, who recently joined the team as Sales Manager of their table grape program, to talk about the company's excitement about this season and opportunities available for retailers.
“Our plan is to start the last week of June in San Joaquin Valley. This season, we will have 17 different varieties that we will be harvesting—so we have a pretty good mix to offer retailers,” Sales Manager Steve Shearer tells me. “Our goal is to have all three colors from start to finish. It should be around mid-December when we are completely shipped out of everything.”
For July alone, the company has the following varieties available: Arra Fire and Flame for red seedless, Ivory and Princess for green seedless, and Summer Royal for black seedless. The varieties available change as the months progress, with crops available for shipment until about halfway through December, but what stays the same is the quality of produce that comes off the vine.
“We want to bring high-end, premium product from the field, to have the best table grapes and to do it right, and to work directly with retailers. We’re partnering with the right people,” Steve shares with me.
Shipments leave the company’s Fowler and Madera, California, facilities throughout the season, making their way into partnering retailers’ locations. To make sure the company gains access to retailers stocking up on premium produce, Steve tells me that Bravante is also continuing to grow its team, bringing in more expertise in exporting, and going directly to retailers to build relationships that last. The company is creating a synergy between all aspects of business to create well-supported and developed relationships with retailers.
“Historically, we have done a lot of export business. As we continue to grow and increase our volumes, we want to build partnerships with the right people. We want to work with retailers that are looking for premium product. There is a lot of potential. As we are doing more outreach, we are getting great reception from retailers looking for an incredible product. We want to get out of the transactional business and into partnerships with customers that want to grow with us through the years and want to have great product on the shelves," he tells me.
Bravante packs its premium-quality grapes in any style that best fits retailers’ needs—from high-graphic bags, which are the go-to for most locations, to clamshells, the company makes packaging requests happen to keep its partnerships healthy and strong.
As the heat of summer unfolds into the breezes of fall, it’s reassuring to know that premium quality grapes are not going anywhere. The seasons may change, the varieties Bravante offers do, too—but its availability of premium-quality grapes is steadfast.