team

We’re grateful for our wonderful group of talented, motivated and good-hearted people, who help us steer Grapa into the future with professionalism, passion and dedication. Our great team has a true international flavor, with staff coming from many countries, including; Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and the United States.

Shachar Karniel

President

Shachar is the breeder of ARRA™ and Early Sweet™ table grape varieties. As a 4th generation farmer whose family have been producing grapes since 1882, Shachar’s vast experience in table grape agriculture led him to launch and manage the breeding programme at Giumarra Vineyards Corporation under its subsidiary, ARD LLC (Agricultural Research & Development LLC). Shachar develops innovative table grape varieties, the best of which are commercialized globally by Grapa Varieties under the ARRA brand.

Rafi Karniel

CEO and Chairman

Rafi is the driving force behind Grapa’s vision, goals and corporate strategy. Since 2009, he has led Grapa’s remarkable growth and evolution. Rafi holds a B.A. in Law and a Masters in Law and Business Management. In April 2017, Rafi was elected to the Board of CIOPORA, an international breeders’ association. With Rafi’s vision to consolidate and unite industry stakeholders to enforce global IP protection, The Breeders’ Alliance Company was born in 2019. As one of the four founding members, Rafi holds a Board seat as well.

Nomi Karniel-Padan

Commercial Director

Utilizing her vast experience in international marketing, together with a childhood spent in the family vineyards, Nomi leads Grapa’s marketing and brand positioning strategy, ensuring Grapa’s place in the international table grape industry as a leading company in the development and commercialization of new table grape varieties. Nomi has a B.A. in Marketing.

Adi Karniel

Director

Together with Shachar, Adi develops the future ARRA varieties under the auspices of the ARD breeding programme.

Vered Karniel

Finance Director

Vered directs our financial department and manages the logistics of Grapa’s extensive international travel and affairs abroad. In addition, she is responsible for coordinating our seminars, meetings and events, both frontal and virtual.

Uzi Yaron

R & D Director

Uzi is an agronomist and highly experienced farmer, holding degrees in political science, history and plant science. He has worked very closely with the ARRA programme and Karniel family for the past twenty years. Utilizing his vast experience and knowledge, Uzi contributes to the creation of new growing techniques and their implementation. As Grapa’s R&D Director, Uzi supports all of Grapa’s technical matters worldwide.

Alexandra Sapir

Chief Operating and Legal Affairs Officer

From her previous role as Grapa’s Legal Affairs Director which she held for more than nine years, Alex took the role of Chief Operating and Legal Affairs Officer at Grapa as of January, 2023. She holds a B.A. in Law and a Master’s in Business Administration. As of October 2020, Alex was also appointed the Chair of the Working Group on Enforcement of CIOPORA, an international breeders’ association.

Andre Vermaak

Global Tech Support Advisor

Andre started his career in the fresh produce industry 4 decades ago as a table grape producer in South Africa. His career continued in Aussenkehr, Namibia, where he managed and established mega table grape farms. With his knowledge in the field and vision of the evolving industry, Andre played a pioneering role in the Namibian scene of new cultivar developments. In the last few years, Andre’s focus exceeded the borders of Namibia, sharing his expertise with table grape growers in all corners of the world. As Grapa’s Global Tech Support Advisor, he provides all necessary agro-technical-operational guidance to the ARRA producers near and far, to lead them to optimal quality and success.

Georgios Bitsakos

Head of Brand Marketing

With a long retail career of more than 14 years at Tesco, Georgios brings a wealth of expertise in sourcing from diverse global regions, with great knowledge of fresh produce categories and a true passion for grapes.

Harnessing his background, Georgios’ role as Head of Brand Marketing is to catalyze the recognition of Grapa varieties within markets. His market knowledge further facilitates the spread of consumer trends and preferences to the community of ARRA growers worldwide.

Élise Schrall

Head of Licensing Department

Elise manages the licensing of table grape varieties represented by Grapa, including drafting contractual agreements and maintaining up to date records of Grapa’ s licensees worldwide. Elise holds a Master of Laws from Bond University, Australia and a Master of Laws from Sorbonne University, France.

Sherry Freudenreich

Licensing Administrator

Sherry carries out an array of duties pertaining to preparation of licenses while liaising with the extensive global agent network. Additionally she manages all the company’s legal data.

Lukas Weindorf

Legal Data Coordinator

Lukas is responsible for collecting and processing plantation data reports related to our licensed growers. Additionally he is in charge of the Gesvatec labeling system which allows for worldwide traceability of the varieties that Grapa represents.

Keren Mizrahi

Agronomy Operations Manager

Keren manages the breeding program technical analysis and project coordination. In addition, she is responsible for obtaining and reviewing all technical data relating to IP and the protection of the ARRA varieties. Keren is an agronomist and holds a B.Sc. in Plant Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Leticia Sivan

Technical Data

Leticia is responsible for the analysis, processing and recording of all Grapa’s agrotechnical data collected from our licensees and partners worldwide. She is in charge of creating diverse technical material and reports

Gaby Mitrani

Agrotechnical Coordinator

Gaby coordinates all international shipping and quarantine procedures and is responsible for the data analysis of test block evaluations worldwide. Gaby holds a B.Sc. in Microbiology from the University of Havana, Cuba.

Nicole Klein

Business Development Manager

Nicole manages the networking of Grapa’s ever growing business opportunities; extending, strengthening and maximizing the company’s horizons worldwide. Working closely with the COO and CEO, she coordinates the planning and execution of Grapa’s key projects.

    Gittel Marcus

    Head of IT

    Gittel manages Grapa’s data architecture and visualization, together with CRM customization, web design and IT administration. In addition, she is responsible for the graphic design of all our marketing materials.

    Tammy Aviad-Eshel

    Commercial Development Manager

    Tammy’s primary responsibility is to enhance Grapa’s commercial relations and drive growth while solidifying the ARRA brand in the marketplace. With her vast experience at the company, over the past 8 years, she continues to develop and implement effective plans that position Grapa as a leading player in the industry.

    Yael Zaviv

    Marketing & Content Manager

    Yael masterfully crafts all of Grapa’s content for online publications, articles, and newsletters, ensuring each piece reflects our brand identity and aligns with our objectives. In addition, Yael leads key marketing projects, including market trend analysis and brand awareness initiatives, to achieve our business goals.

      Shai Paz

      Community Manager

      Shai manages Grapa’s continuously expanding global community, fostering connections through digital engagement and client relations. She is responsible for the majority of Grapa’s online presence, which includes curating website content, updating social media, and graphic design. Additionally, Shai oversees client interactions leading up to and during exhibitions, field days, and key industry events, ensuring a seamless experience for our dynamic community.

        Emma Toledano

        Head of IP Department

        Emma manages the IP Portfolio of the table grape varieties represented by Grapa, including the registration of patents, plant breeders’ rights and trademarks. She holds an LLB (hons) in Law and has 20 years’ experience in the IP field.

        Irina Blokh

        IP Assistant

        Irina offers comprehensive support and assistance for Grapa’s Intellectual Property Portfolio, including preparing applications to ensure the global protection of ARRA grape varieties.

          Liron Nahum

          IP Assistant

          Liron offers comprehensive support and assistance for Grapa’s Intellectual Property Portfolio, including preparing applications to ensure the global protection of ARRA grape varieties.

            Esther Schlesinger

            Financial Assistant

            As the personal assistant to Grapa’s Financial Director, Esther is responsible for compiling financial data and collecting royalties from our licensees. She also updates Grapa’s financial system and analyzes the collected information to generate financial reports.

            ARRA Cherry Crush™

            The Crush Everyone’s talking about!

            Tony Calvillo, Vice President of International Business Development, Dayka & Hackett LLC, shared: “Today, we visited the ARRA Cherry Crush—a grape variety that exceeds the expectations of growers, consumers, and retailers alike. We are thrilled to witness its remarkable potential. Boasting an alluring cherry colour, impressive size, abundant production, and a perfect balance of taste and crunch, ARRA Cherry Crush creates a mutually beneficial scenario for discerning producers, consumers, and retailers.”

            ARRA Fire Crunch™

            Igniting the senses

            Just in time for the festive season, the inaugural batch of ARRA Fire Crunch™ made its way from Peru to the USA. Karl Conrads, founder, CEO of Grapasa accompanied the first year vines from budbreak all the way to Walmart facilities in Los Angeles.

            Don’t miss the footage, showing this landmark arrival, now the sky’s the limit.

            ARRA Passion Fire™

            Sharing the passion – Right now in Southern Africa:

            “It’s a great, beautiful grape, we are having a great time packing it.” shares Gabriel Viljoen of G.P. Viljoen Farming

            We’ve heard other growers excited about this year’s performance.

            “The ARRA Passion Fire was probably the most beautiful red grapes around on our farms.”

            ARRA Fire Kiss™

            Start the season with a Kiss

            This year, attendees got a firsthand look at ARRA Fire Kiss™ in Egypt. What stood out was how distinctly different it was from the Flame, leaving no doubt that it is the perfect Flame replacement.