Last week, the Grapa team returned from a whirlwind trip to Australia. In this edition, we focus on the highlights of the visit and in addition, share with you great harvest news from the vineyards of South Africa.

Expanding Possibilities

This month, Rafi and Nomi embarked on a week’s tour of the main ARRA growing regions in Australia. Namely; Sunraysia, Emerald, and the Mareeba area, meeting with the ARRA growers and the ARRA agents in Australia, Fruit Master and Romeo’s Best.  As Rafi explains, “The purpose of the visit was to discuss the challenges the growers are facing, thus enabling us to understand how we can best support them. In spite of the intense itinerary, it was a most valuable visit and provided us with the rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with the ARRA growers and to hear first-hand of their conclusions from the last season’s production. Although the challenges are many for the growers; water shortages, extreme, diverse weather conditions and high labour costs, we trust that with the right support in place, there is great potential for the ARRA programme in this huge continent.” 

Sunraysia Region

One of the oldest and the main area of growing table grapes in Australia. The growers there are facing unstable and extreme weather that sometimes make it difficult to produce the grapes, especially at critical stages such as flowering. The growers described that they are experiencing sometimes four different seasons in one day. In general, the ARRA varieties are quite new to Australia and together with the local ARRA agronomists we are working on their adjustment to the local weather challenges.

Precision Vineyard

The first farm we visited in Mildura was Precision Vineyard, growing ARRA Passion Fire™ (ARRA 29)ARRA Sweeties™ (ARRA 15) and a small area of ARRA Passion Punch™ (ARRA 28). Although the growers in this region face some of the worst weather conditions, Nick Mammone’s ARRA Sweeties™ (ARRA 15) vineyards are producing very good bunches

Nick Mammone with his ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15), in third-year production
From left: Fruit Master general manager, Mark Leng, agronomist Stephan Nel, Precision Vineyard owner Nick Mammone, agronomist Alysson Barbosa Vieira and Rafi
From left: Rafi, Alysson, Nomi, Nick and Stephan
ARRA Passion Fire™ (ARRA 29) in second-year production; in spite of the difficult weather conditions, the variety is showing great potential.

Test block at Fruit Master Farm, Paringi

After the visit to the test block, we went to Fruit Master’s distribution centre at Robinvale and saw some ARRA varieties from the cold storage, where we were thrilled to see the ARRA Passion Fire still looking good and fresh.

AI & P Tsanakaliotis Farm

Arthur's son, Nick, in ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15) vineyard; third year in production, three weeks before harvest

M & J Lanteri Farm

From left: M & J Lanteri director and manager Joseph Lanteri, Stephan Nel, Mark Leng, operation manager Michael Lanteri, Fruit Master business manager Mark Cavallo, Alysson and Rafi

Fotia Farms

On left: Tony Romeo, CEO of Romeo's Best. On right: Rafi and Fotia Farm's owner, Antonio Fotia

Cavallo Fruits

In its first-year of production, the ARRA Passion Fire (ARRA 29) is left natural on the vine, in order to allow the vine to strengthen and even without any agricultural inputs, the great potential is clearly seen.

Cavallo Fruits owner, Nick Cavallo in ARRA Passion Fire (ARRA 29) vineyard, first-year production.
Nick's son, Tony Cavallo with his ARRA Mystic Dream™ (ARRA 32)

North Queensland: Mareeba and Mutchilba

This region has a very hot, humid and rainy climate, similar to Sao Francisco Valley in Brazil, where the vine is never dormant and can produce two cycles of harvest per year. Here, there are big plantations of ARRA varieties, mainly of ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15).

Second crop of ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15)
Tony Romeo and his nephew, Angelo, in the beautiful ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15) vineyards
Paul and Elaine. farm managers at Mariba and Mutchilba & (on right) Francesca La Spina, advisor to CEO at Romeo's Best

Emerald

In this region the climate is dry and hot  Here, we visited three farms after their harvest, including the farm of ARRA grower, John Staier, who grows commercially ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15), ARRA Sugar Drop (ARRA 30) and ARRA Passion Fire (ARRA 29). Although his harvest was already finished, we received his feedback and he was very positive about the three varieties and happy with their performance and is looking forward to extending significantly in the near future.

John Staier with son Drew in ARRA 15 (top) and young ARRA 30 vineyards.
From cold storage ARRA Passion Fire (ARRA 29) and ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15) from Fruit Master's farm
In the ARRA vineyard; Rafi and Fruit Master's farm manager at Emerald farm, Christos Karanicolos.
Rafi and Romeo's Best Emerald farm manager, Douw van der Merwe

A big thanks to great people

We would like to say a huge thank you to the ARRA growers for their support of the ARRA programme in Australia and for the warm welcome and hospitality they offered us throughout our visit. Much appreciation and gratitude to the ARRA teams of Fruit Master and Romeo’s Best for accompanying us for the duration of our trip and for their time and great efforts in making our visit so worthwhile.

We heard it through the grapevine


We are delighted to bring news straight from the vineyards of South Africa on the recent ARRA Sweeties™ (ARRA 15) harvest at Lac Du Soleil farm, situated in the Piketberg area in Western Cape. This update is kindly provided by Andre Jacobs, technical director of fresh produce exporters, In2fruit and shareholder of Lac du Soleil.

Ripe for the picking, Lac du Soleil's beautiful ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15) crop

This is the second year harvest of ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15) at Lac du Soleil farm. They have five hectares of ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15) on Ramsey rootstock. This year the harvest ran from 30th December until 7th January and produced 36,000 cartons.

Averaging 36 bunches per vine and 55-65 berries per bunch (with the aim of an average bunch weight of 520 grams), as can clearly be seen in the photographs, the crop produced beautiful uniform bunches and clean berries. As Andre Jacobs concludes, “ARRA Sweeties is an excellent variety, yields well and our customers responded positively on the first arrivals, for sure this is a variety that will be included in our plantings in the future.”

The A Team

From left; Andre Jacobs-shareholder/technical advisor, Ashley Williams-irrigation operator, Pieter Mostert-team leader, Dabian Fortuin-aerial spray operator, Gerhard Olivier-general manager and Johannes Carolus-assistant manager

The A Team

Ever wondered what fresh ARRA grapes from the southern hemisphere taste like? You don’t need to circle the globe to find out, just come to the Grapa stand at Fruit Logistica in Berlin on 5-7 February to see and taste an array of ARRA varieties and selections from South Africa, Brazil, Peru and Chile. The Grapa team will be on hand to warmly welcome you. As it tends to get very busy at the exhibition, we recommend setting a meeting with us beforehand to ensure adequate time for discussion and questions.
To book a meeting with the Grapa team, please contact Nicole: pa@grapaes.com

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