Sonoran grapes hit fast crescendo

June 19 , 2023

Much better late than never. Sonoran grapes are now roaring into the marketplace.

On June 1, Mexican grape shipper Divine Flavor LLC, indicated a huge cold weather-induced gap between its early Jalisco grape deal and the traditional high-volume shipping of Sonora. Prices had been historically high because of unprecedented low supplies.

Grape industry icon John Pandol, Pandol Bros., Delano, CA, on June 16 told that he did a Chicago supermarket tuor June 7-8. While some stores had strong grape displays, and Aldi’s apparently made Mexican grapes a loss leader, with prices at $1.49 or $1.99 per pound. He speculates that FOB prices were so high that the empty shelves were attributable to those stores refusing to pay to have grapes in their stores. In Tucson, AZ, on June 11, Pandol also found a retail store with no grapes on display.

Supermarket in Chicago, June 8. Courtesy of John Pandol

Also on June 16, caught Michael DuPuis, who is Divine Flavor’s quality assurance and public relations coordinator over the phone in Guaymas, Sonora. He had toured 15 Sonoran vineyards in recent days. He was excited because the famous new Candy grape varieties were on the cusp of a highly successful shipping season.  

Jelly Berries, Gummy Berries and the widely popular Cotton Candy grapes were among the Candies just being harvested. Volume was to build in the week of June 19. In addition to Guaymas, the Sonoran growing districts of La Costa, which is near the Sea of Cortez to the west of Hermosillo, and Pesqueria, north of Hermosillo, as well as the northernmost district, Caborca, were all coming on strong in a season that will be ending in mid-July.

Pandol indicates the timeframe of June 19-30 will be the core of the Sonoran grape deal. Supply will be exceeding demand, he suggests.

The grape crops in all of these areas look good, other than the size of Flames being down a little. Other varieties have good size and good brix, according to DuPuis. “We’re in a good position moving into the final weeks. It will be exciting to have all the varieties at once.”

The middle two weeks of June were facing record high temperatures in Sonora, with thermometers hitting in the 110-114 range. But DuPuis says the Sonora grape industry is equipped to pick, pack and ship high-quality grapes.

Pandol says the Mexican deal may go until about July 10, but California will be in the table grape market by then, and “robust” with grapes by July 17. 

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